Guardian / Alternative Cambridge

Great to wake up to a piece in the Guardian about the alternative culture scene in Cambridge. Many thanks to Donna Lynas for the reference. Hats off also to such alternative heroes as Bad Timing and Crushing Death and Grief who also work hard to keep Cambridge's underground culture thriving.  

"The Alchemcial Landscape

There are some underground things coming out of the university,” says Lynas, such as this group who – via public talks, off-beam art happenings, film screenings and such – examine the artistic representation of the British landscape and, specifically, the haunted language and symbolism in which it is steeped. Says Lynas: “The east of England has a flat and melancholic landscape, which people are interested in. This group looks at it from an occult-magical position."

Dust / Gerald Nicosia / Kerouac's Ghosts

Still from the video The Other Side.

'Kerouac's Ghosts' was an event curated by Malcolm Guite and James Riley featuring the legendary Beat scholar, Gerald Nicosia. The evening consisted of a lecture and poetry reading by Gerald in support of his new collection, The Ghosts of Kerouac (2017). We performed our piece ' Dust' as part of the poetry bill. 'Dust' was first performed as part of The Other Side event at Cambridge. Full details of the Nicosia show can be found here.


Following on from our successful research 2016-2017 seminar series at CRASSH (Centre for Research in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences), part of the University of Cambridge, we have been awarded support for a second seminar sequence. This will cover the next academic year, 2017-2018. Full details can be found here. For an overview of the group at CRASSH click here.

Child Be Strange / Penda's Fen

Yvonne Salmon at the BFI

In June, Yvonne Salmon was invited to take part in 'Child Be Strange', a special one-day symposium at the British Film Institute looking at Alan Clarke's Penda's Fen (1974). Yvonne spoke on 'Penda's Fen and Contemporary Occulture'. A publication from Strange Attractor Press is forthcoming. Original event flyer text added below.


Child Be Strange: A Symposium on Penda's Fen.

Featuring a Q&A with screenwriter David Rudkin

Including contributions from: Roger Luckhurst (Birkbeck), Yvonne Salmon (Cambridge University), Will Fowler (BFI), Gareth Evans (Whitechapel Gallery), and more tbc.

When Alan Clarke’s Penda’s Fen was first broadcast in 1974 as a BBC ‘Play for Today’, The Times commented that it was a “major work of television” and praised David Rudkin’s writing for its “beauty, imagination and depth.” Including the film in its 2011 selection of the best 100 British films, Time Out magazine described Penda's Fen as a “multi-layered reading of contemporary society and its personal, social, sexual, psychic and metaphysical fault lines.” It has since been recognized as an extraordinary contribution to 1970s counter-cultural investigations of alternative ‘pagan’ histories of landscape, myth, theology and psyche at a crucial transitional moment in post-war Britain.

The film vanished into unseen cult status, but after decades of unavailability the BFI has released Penda’s Fen on Blu-ray and DVD. This one-day symposium seeks to bring together academics, writers, and artists from across different fields to excavate this weird and wonderful cultural artefact.

Ben Wheatley / Freefire

Image result for ben wheatley cambridge picturehouse

Ben Wheatley and Yvonne Salmon in conversation at the Picturehouse, Cambridge. Image: Picturehouse via Twitter.

Yvonne Salmon was delighted to be invited to interview Ben Wheatley as part of his promotional tour to support Freefire (2017). The sell-out event on March 30th generated some fabulous questions and the film was very well received. Having instigated the Alchemical Landscape project with a special screening and symposium on A Field in England (2013), and previously organised a Q+A to support High Rise (2016) Salmon is an expert on Wheatley's work.

Invisible Landscapes

We were very happy to work with Yelena Popova on Invisible Landscapes, a joint screening of video works. This was held at the Grange Cottage at Girton College as part of Yelena's artistic residency at Cambridge.  Scroll down for the original event flyer text.

Still from Ghost Walk.



An Evening of Short Films by Yelena Popova, Yvonne Salmon & James Riley.

7pm Thursday 4th May, Grange Cottage Studio, Girton College Main Site.

Invisible Landscapes is a curated film programme featuring work by Girton's Artist in Residence Yelena Popova and the directors of the ongoing Alchemcial Landscape project, Yvonne Salmon & James Riley.

With a shared interest in landscape, architecture and psychogeography, these films use word and image to look at some of the hidden forces that underpin our notions of place.

Films to be shown include:

Yelena Popova: Particulate Matter, Unnamed.

Yvonne Salmon & James Riley: Ghost Walk, Distress Signals, Territories, The Bird, Codebreaker.

The screening will be introduced by the film-makers and will feature a short Q+A session. All welcome.


One of our ongoing projects is Headlands. This has been developed and designed by Yvonne Salmon and James Riley as a multi-platform work encompassing expanded cinema, spoken word, field research, a curated exhibition and various publications.

The project looks at the folkloric and ufological intersections that exist between two villages in North Cornwall: Port Isaac and St. Teath.

We mounted the project as an exhibition at the Faculty of English, University of Cambridge from 23rd June to 11th July 2016. This was followed by an live event at the Festival of Ideas on October 22nd, 2017. A trailer for the live event can be found here. We are now preparing the piece for release as a book and album on Eighth Climate Records. Further live performances are planned for the future . Scroll down for images and the promotional text for the original exhibition.


Headlands Hotel, Port Isaac, Cornwall

Tintagel, Cornwall

Field work: Salmon shooting in St. Teath


Headlands - A New Exhibition on the First Floor

In 2015 Yvonne Salmon and James Riley travelled through North Cornwall. They went in search of evidence pertaining to two fictional and folkloric events: the filming of the sci-fi drama The Nightmare Man (1981) in Port Isaac and the 1645 'abduction' of Ann Jefferies from the nearby hamlet of St. Teath.

A series of material and symbolic factors connect these two episodes. They also lie at the intersection of place, culture and myth that characterises Cornwall's particular psychic territory.

Influenced by Patrick Keiller and the Robinson Institute, Headlands presents a series of texts, images and magical objects. Drawing on Yvonne Salmon's work as an artist and James Riley's experience with private archives, it is intended as an essay by way of artefacts, a dispatch from the zone.

You can see this exhibition on the first floor landing of the English Faculty building from 23rd June to 11th July 2016.

Yvonne Salmon and James Riley will be on the first floor landing at 1pm on Thursday 30th June. They will be happy to talk through the exhibition with any interested parties.

Headlands is presented as an output of the ongoing research project The Alchemical Landscape. It has been timed to coincide with 'The Alchemical Landscape II: Screen Media, Occulture and the Geographic Turn', a one day symposium at Girton College, Cambridge on 7th July. An event linked to the Headlands exhibition will be presented as part of the 2016 Festival of Ideas. The Alchemical Landscape Project has been awarded CRASSH research group status and will run a seminar series during the academic year 2016-2017.