Conference: Persecution and Possibility - a day of artistic and academic discussion - Wed 24 Apr 2019 -Wed 24 Apr 2019

10am - 5pm, Reed Hall, University of Exeter, EX4 4QR. £30/35

This event is £30 with earlybird booking until 28 Feb, or £35 after (£25 OAPs and students)


10am – 5pm (registration & coffee from 9.30am)
Reed Hall, University of Exeter, Devon, EX4 4QR, UK
£35 (£25 OAP’s and students)
£30 early bird booking until Thursday 28 February 2019
Book: 01626 832223 or in person at Devon Guild of Craftsmen
Organised by Devon Guild of Craftsmen, with support from the University of Exeter Arts and Culture team, this day-long event will bring academics and artists together to shed further light on the history of witchcraft in Exeter, Devon and beyond, and on the symbolism, imagery and practices that can still resonate strongly with us today.


Dr Nicola Thomas – Associate Professor in Cultural Geography, University of Exeter

Key note Speakers:

Anne Jackson - Knotted tapestry artist and Certaine Wytches exhibition originator
'The Witchcraft series - Commemoration and Metaphor'
Anne Jackson’s current textile-art practice consists of a long-term project entitled “The Witchcraft Series”. It explores the power that the idea of “the witch” holds in our culture, as representation of social injustice towards women, and as metaphor for our fears. She use historical texts and illustrations, alongside modern scientific and cultural references, to represent the stories of individual persecuted women, and to comment on ways we try to exert control over our world and our own lives. More recently Anne has been looking further into the idea of the witch as an unwelcome outsider, a figure of fear who invades domestic and psychic spaces, in historic accounts and village gossip, as well as in fairy tales and current political discourse.
Professor Mark Stoyle - Professor of Early Modern History, University of Southampton
Professor Stoyle’s presentation explores the early history of witch-prosecution in Exeter. It begins by introducing the men and women who were denounced to the city authorities as witches during the mid-Tudor period, then turns to consider the stories of those who were tried by the local magistrates for the same supposed crimes during the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. He will conclude with an exploration of the sudden upsurge in prosecutions - though not executions – of alleged witches which occurred in Exeter during the Civil War and Interregnum.
Legion Projects - Curators of Waking the Witch
The British Isles have a strong relationship with magic and the occult, with the chants of witchcraft echoing throughout their history. Traditional witchcraft has a strong connection to the earth, with an intimate knowledge of herbs, plants and the elements - as well as the human body. As gatekeepers to altered consciousness and as communicators with non-human beings, witches have been both feared and sought out for their dealings with the unknown. Historically persecuted as an outsider, the witch has been taken on by artists as a challenging force to prevailing norms and as a symbol of dissidence.

Legion Projects are the curators behind Waking the Witch, a group exhibition of 16 contemporary artists whose work looks to the importance of craft, ritual and land on the practice of the ever shifting figure of the witch. Offering interpretations of both contemporary and historical witchcraft, the exhibition aims to reclaim the multifarious voices the witch has been given over the course of history, facilitating a speculative search for lost knowledge. The exhibition is touring the UK in 2018/19 and the curators will give an introduction to the ideas behind the exhibition.

Professor Marion Gibson - Professor of Renaissance and Magical Literatures, University of Exeter
“What do we know about witches? That the majority of British people accused were women, but some were men. That, when convicted, witches were often executed. That accusers told stories of loss, treachery and hatred. But what kinds of stories did witches tell?” Professor Gibson’s presentation is about how witches used their stories to explain themselves, to open up possibilities in their lives and - sometimes - to escape from persecution. It focuses on English witches from Devon to Essex to Lancashire and the witchcraft tales that they wove around accusations made against them.

This conference accompanies the exhibition Certaine Wytches – Fear, Myth & Magic. Through a series of large and small-scale knotted tapestries, textile-artist Anne Jackson explores the ideas of witchcraft and historic witch-persecution across Europe, both as commemoration and as a metaphor for our contemporary fears. The word witch often signifies an outsider who is seen as frightening or difficult. She is sometimes seen as the wielder of occult power, sometimes as a healer, and she has often been met by violence. Certaine Wytches will lay bare the dramatic and unsettling experiences brought to life through Anne’s impactful knotted tapestries, and will pose questions about our own beliefs, provoking evocative responses.
The exhibition will juxtapose the narratives played out in these contemporary tapestries with authentic historical artefacts from the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic in Boscastle.
Certaine Wytches runs until Monday 6th May - come and be both inspired and unsettled by this striking exhibition.



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Further Information:

Directions to Reed Hall...

Please be advised that the conference will take place on the 1st floor of Reed Hall (accessed via stairs/ with a 1st floor lavatory).  We very much regret that the 1st floor is not accessible to wheelchair users.  If you do have mobility issues but can manage stairs then please feel free to give us a ring if you would like more information about access at Reed Hall.
University of Exeter, Streatham Campus, Northcote House, Exeter EX4 4QJ
On foot

The University is within easy walking distance of Exeter city centre. The city centre map overleaf shows the location of the Streatham Campus, Exeter St David's and Exeter Central train stations, all within walking distance.
By bike
Exeter is a Cycling Demonstration Town and the University is well served with traffic-free cycle routes. Cycle parking is available at both campuses.
By rail
Exeter has two railway stations - Exeter St David's (main station) and Central. Exeter St David's Station is approximately 10 minutes walk from the Streatham Campus and taxis are available. See Streatham Campus map attached for the walking route.
Use National Rail Enquiries to plan your route. For passenger information telephone 08457 484950.
By bus/coach
The Streatham Campus is served by the D and H bus routes. The D bus route includes Digby, St Luke’s Campus, the City Centre and Streatham Campus (download PDF). The H bus route includes the RD&E hospital, St Luke’s Campus, the City Centre, St David’s station, Cowley Bridge and Streatham Campus.
National Express coaches (08705 808080) call at Exeter Coach Station. The Coach Station is a short walk to the High Street where you can catch the local D bus which will take you to the Streatham Campus.

By car
The M4/M5 links Exeter directly to London, the Midlands, South Wales and the North including Scotland. For detailed directions of how to reach the campus by car please visit
Satellite navigation Use postcode EX4 4QJ
Car parking for visitors
Pay and display car parking is permitted on the Streatham Campus. Payment machines can be found at or close to each parking area. Charges apply between 08.00 and 18.00 hours, Monday to Friday. There are various car parks around the campus. The main car parks are Car Parks A, B and the visitors’ car park. Please see the attached campus map for details and locations.
Please note that parking spaces are limited, especially during term, and we encourage visitors to use public transport where possible.