Skywave: a sci-art proposal

In April 2016, hearing about the new sci-art festival which was set to happen at the nearby Jodrell Bank radio telescope observatory, I made a proposal on Facebook for some kind of Stoke-on-Trent fringe event that might link up with it. The core idea was a suggestions for a new “symphony” in 2018 called Skywave which would link our science heritage with ceramics. I’ve now remembered it again, and have found a little time to work it up as a poster proposal.

Slight correction: I’ve since found that Lodge’s demonstration of electricity was more likely to have been his new home at Wolstanton.


Staffordshire and Cheshire Landscapes in Sir Gawain

There’s an essay on “Romantic Quest in the West Midlands. Staffordshire and Cheshire Landscapes in ‘Sir Gawain and the Green Knight,'”, in the book collection of essays The Gawain Country: Essays on the Topography of Middle English Poetry, Leeds Texts and Monographs series, 1984.

The essay is not online, but the book may possibly still available by mail-order for £9 — according to this order page which dates from about circa 2011. It also appeared as “Staffordshire and Cheshire Landscapes in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” in the North Staffordshire Journal of Field Studies 17, 1977, pages 20-49.


Incidentally, the pentangle on the shield (seen above) is not a pagan artist’s modern imposition on an ancient text, it’s something detailed in the text…

It is a symbol that Solomon designed long ago
As an emblem of fidelity, and justly so;
Therefore it suits this knight and his shining arms,
For always faithful in five ways, and five times in each case,
Gawain was reputed as virtuous,

The Folio Society found a way to detach the symbol from its contemporary “naff hippie-shop pentangle” connotations, by ingeniously and elegantly making it more like a figure…

North Staffordshire Field Studies journals, catalogue update

My early-alpha version of a basic annotated catalogue of the contents of the North Staffordshire Field Studies journals and successors has been expanded to 1895. It’s currently a rough ‘finding aid’, rather than a proper polished bibliography to library standards. The gap in coverage of the main annual volume is now narrowed to: 1896-1959. Also, keyword search from the search-box is now enabled.


More fake news from the left

Did slavery profits bankroll the Midlands industrial revolution, as local socialist M.P. Tristram Hunt (Labour) would have had you believe in his recent speech in Stoke?


Erm, no. Slavery did not fund a major share of the capital that went into our industrial revolution. If you put together all the combined profits of the slave trade and the West Indian sugar plantations in general, together they did not even add up to five percent of Britain’s national income, either before or during the Industrial Revolution. Even a Midlands-specific claim doesn’t hold water — that exports to colonial settlers might have made huge profits for our early textiles and small metalworking industries. Such activity was at best of minor importance, and overall profits from the colonial trade were low…

“Profits from the colonies and imperial trade and capital accumulation in Britain”: [when put together, all of the] commerce with the ‘periphery’ [i.e.: with fringe areas of the world and colonies] generated funds sufficient to finance only 15 per cent of gross investment expenditures during the Industrial Revolution [… and such] external trade was only a small proportion of Europe’s economic activity and most industries did not depend upon imported raw materials … historians have argued that sugar did not furnish a sufficiently large total output to be a major contributor to the savings that funded the Industrial Revolution … It is equally difficult to prove that merchant capital amassed from colonial commerce [as a whole] was decisive for British industrial growth.” — Kenneth Morgan, Slavery, Atlantic Trade and the British Economy, 1660–1800, Cambridge University Press.

The book is described by Cambridge University Press as… “An up-to-date synthesis of work on slavery, Atlantic trade and the British economy … essential reading”.

The socialist notion that that the industrial revolution was funded largely by slavery arose from the rabidly Marxist 20th century historian Eric Williams, about whose work…

“the majority of scholars working on British industrialization tend to be highly skeptical” [today, because…] “Eric Williams and his followers probably exaggerated the profitability of the slave trade and slave plantation complex.” — from a review of Slavery, Atlantic Trade and the British Economy, 1660–1800, in Reviews in History, June 2002.

A Means to Freedom: The Letters of H. P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard

Long unavailable except at huge cost, there’s now to be a second printing of one of the most important books for fantasy research. The cheap paperback edition of the collected correspondence by letters between R. E. Howard and H. P. Lovecraft. The two-volume set will be officially released on 22nd January 2017, albeit at a still-hefty $60 plus shipping for both volumes. Advance orders are now being taken at the Hippocampus website. Hopefully there will eventually also be a cheaper Kindle ebook version, in time.