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Festival success

Posted on 31/10/2012
John Berger visits the John Berger exhibition at Somerset House during the Arts and Humanities Festival

Over 3,000 people flocked to events as part of the 2012 Arts & Humanities Festival. Academics, high-profile authors, musicians and artists came together to discuss, exhibit and bring to life the School’s research at 50 events over two weeks. The Festival explored the theme of ‘Metamorphoses, transformations & conversions’ through art exhibitions, performances and discussions to showcase the breadth and diversity of research in the arts and humanities.

Highlights included author Will Self in conversation with Patrick Wright discussing England’s transformative presence on his work, a talk by former Children’s Laureate Michael Morpurgo and a premiere of a new work by Silvina Milstein, Professor of Music which was performed by Lontano; King’s contemporary music ensemble in residence. The history of the Strand was brought to life through performances, songs, poetry and visual displays by the Strandlines Cabinet of Artists.

An exhibition by artist, art critic and novelist John Berger received a four star review in the Independent and proved so enticing Berger himself was caught viewing his work at the Inigo Rooms (open until 10 November). Discussion panels explored topics as diverse as the role of religion in US politics, visual representations of political activism in the Arab Spring and philosophical and neuroscientific viewpoints on free will and decision making.

The ‘Collective Spirit’ yacht, the brainchild of Gregg Whelan (King’s Creative Fellow) and Gary Winters of Lone Twin, was unmissable in the Strand Quad for the duration of the Festival. The 30 foot sailing boat which was painstakingly crafted using donated pieces of wood arrived at King’s College after its maiden voyage as part of the Cultural Olympiad.  Lone Twin describe the yacht as a “seaworthy archive of stories and memories” and Festival Director Max Saunders remarked on its ability to “transform the Quad and initiate conversations during the Festival”.

The Festival has run in its present form since 2009 and has proved a vital platform for communicating the value and impact of the School’s research to members of the public, alumni, creative partners, staff, students and members of other academic institutions. Head of School Professor Jan Palmowski described the Festival as “an important forum through which our research could inform public debate, on topics including the US elections, how we experience change and displacement, and how English and British identities might be constituted and addressed.”

This year’s Festival also saw the unveiling of a new Festival blog. Speakers were asked to comment on metamorphoses, transformations and conversions in their research and attendees were asked to share their thoughts on topics covered at events. To add your voice to the conversation please visit: http://kingsahfest.wordpress.com/.

The theme of the Festival, 'Metamorphoses, transformations & conversations’, proved stimulating and inspiring for speakers and audiences alike; a theme broad enough to showcase the diversity of the School's research and focused enough to provoke ideas. As the Arts & Humanities Research Institute starts to plan for next year, staff and students are invited to suggest new themes that will help the Festival to reflect the School’s work by emailing suggestions to ahri@kcl.ac.uk by 22 November. 

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