Ruthie Collins, founder of Cambridge Art Salon, gives her arty picks of the month
As the nights draw in, this is the time of year when the landscape takes on its own eerie beauty – nature coming to life through myth, magic and folk tales. Yet according to the National Trust, folk tales are becoming an endangered species, as they’re at risk of losing their relevance to modern-day children. The Keeper of Stories, at Espresso Library, is a solo show from Swedish artist Karin Eklund that is peppered with the same haunting, ethereal magic that permeates folk tales – an intuitive space that allows us to explore some of humanity’s greatest fears.
“My work blurs the definitions of art and illustration. Each work could be seen as part of a collection of short stories, or individually. Just as when one story in a collection might not give you all the answers, or even a sense of space, but completing all the stories within the covers, a feeling or intuition will help you interpret the meaning,” says Karin. A dark simplicity fuses her work, colouring it with both innocence and a timeless quality that make this show a perfect prelude to cosying up next to a roaring fire, with nothing but stories to see you through the night. The Keeper of Stories runs until 20 November.
Why do we need storytellers? What is the relationship between myth, magic and the telling of stories? “As all parents know, the way you tell a story to a five-year-old is different than the way you tell it to an adolescent – but make no mistake, the teenager desperately needs to hear that story, as does an old woman,” says mythologist and shaman, Martin Shaw. “It’s a cloak around the shifting kingdom of their roaming soul.” The Storyteller and the Shaman is a morning workshop from Cambridge Storytellers with Martin at Storeys Field Centre on 11 November, with a performance in the evening, too; book tickets via WeGotTickets.
Also seeing a blurring of boundaries between art and the written word is Voyage, from Spanish artist Albarno Hernandez, at the Centre for Languages and Inter-Communication (CLIC) throughout the academic year. Cambridge has long fostered a crossover between words and art – a hotbed for culture and communication – making the CLIC the perfect setting for Voyage. The book Claro vuelo de la memoria, an artwork created in collaboration with the renowned poet José María Muñoz Quirós, is key to the show. A limited edition of just 15 copies, these are 12 poems as paintings, selected by the artist from more than a thousand of the poet’s works.
“The relationship with the poet was established in our home town,” explains Albano. “We are both from Ávila and we are both interested in memory and in the traces of history as a source of inspiration.” Theirs is an enchanting dialogue between painting and poetry, taking us on a journey of “flight between the rigour of the word and the richness of plastic creativity…”
At the heart of many cultures, of course, is food. Opening at The Fitzwilliam Museum is Feast & Fast, exploring food in all its glory, dating from 1500s to 1800s. This multisensory exhibition – which opens on 26 November – shares treasures from the collections at the museum and includes four reconstructions with food at each centre, from a Jacobean sugar banquet to a Georgian confectioner’s workshop. You can pop in for a curator’s talk, learn about Christmas food traditions, enjoy a bit of festive shopping and jazz in the courtyard, plus there’s the chance to watch a screening of Bright Star, a romantic film about John Keats.
Finally, those near Mill Road, make sure you see Angels Need Love Too at the Makers Gallery, a solo show of new works by Manuela Hübner, from 7 to 16 November. Large-scale oils, full of light, love and elegant contrasts explore self-determination – that path of figuring out exactly who you are. What gives us inner freedom? Or takes it away? What makes us who we really are? Timely food for thought, in the run-up to the most frantic time of the year – enjoy it.