The Odditorium x Buxton Festival

The Odditorium – the bestselling book by David Bramwell and the makers of Ernest Journal – is going on tour! Our first stop is the wonderful Buxton Festival Book Weekend this coming Saturday 19 November. Come along for an evening of engaging and surprising talks – an inspiring medley of Antarctic exploration, literary hoaxes, wild avant-garde art, time travel and the world’s largest underground temple. Here's what to expect from the evening...

Archive image kindly supplied by Daisy Campbell

Archive image kindly supplied by Daisy Campbell

Literary hoaxes: from the playwright incarcerated for “crimes against library books” to the ‘seeker’ who tried to rebrand the Royal Shakespeare Company

David Bramwell shares stories of our most daring literary tricksters: W. Reginald Bray, a Victorian postal prankster who mailed over 30,000 singular objects (including himself, half-smoked cigarettes, a letter ‘to the nearest residents’ of the Old Man of Hoy and an Irish terrier named Bob). Playwright Joe Orton, who was jailed for “crimes against library books”. Theatre director and ‘seeker’ Ken Campbell, who pulled off one of the greatest pranks in British history by re-branding the RSC as The Royal Dickens Society. And Tuesday Lobsang Rampa, a West Country plumber who reinvented himself as a Tibetan lama and went on to become the best-selling author of books on Tibet. 

Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven: the woman who was the future

John Higgs introduces us to the Baroness Elsa, a wild avant-garde artist who wore cakes for hats, postage stamps for makeup and a bra made from two tomato cans and green string. Over a 100 years before Lady Gaga turned up wearing a meat dress, the Baroness was genuinely shocking. John argues that the Baroness, a previously overlooked character in history, should not only be recognised as the first American Dada artist and first New York punk, but also the originator of Duchamp’s Fountain, voted the most influential work of art in the twentieth century. 

Eyewitness Accounts with Scott in the Antarctic  by Herbert Ponting

Eyewitness Accounts with Scott in the Antarctic by Herbert Ponting

The worst journey in the world: the life and aspirations of Apsley Cherry-Garrard

James Burt explores the life and times of Apsley Cherry-Garrard, one of three explorers on Captain Scott’s fatal Antarctic expedition who was tasked with “the weirdest bird’s-nesting expedition that has ever been or will be.” Facing brutal blizzards (their tent was blown away, followed by the top of their igloo) in conditions so cold that Cherry’s teeth shattered, the trio returned with their requested emperor penguin’s egg only for it be treated with complete indifference by the Natural History Museum (“this ain’t an egg shop,” the custodian says as Cherry is left in a corridor, waiting to be given a receipt.) This an inspiring tale of failure, endurance and redemption and, although most of us will never venture into such inhospitable places, James Burt argues that Cherry’s experience has great significance in our everyday adventures. As Shackleton once wrote: “We all have our own White South.” 

Photo kindly supplied by Federation of Damanhur

Photo kindly supplied by Federation of Damanhur

Damanhur: singing plants and the world’s largest underground temple

In the foothills of the Alps, an hour’s drive north of Turin, lies the eighth wonder of the world: The Temples of Humankind. A vast underground network, equivalent in size to St Paul’s Cathedral, it boasts nine chambers, secret stairways, a labyrinth, glass music hall... oh, and a fully functioning time machine. In this illuminating talk, David Bramwell digs into the life of Falco Tarassaco (aka Oberto Airaudi) who led a spiritual community in building this genuinely astonishing architectural wonder, exploring ideas of obsession, singular ambition and what it means to create a living myth. 

Meet the speakers

David Bramwell
David is co-author of The Odditorium, creator of the bestselling Cheeky Guides and author of travel memoir The No9 Bus to Utopia, which evolved into a one man show, radio documentary and TEDx talk. David is also a Sony Award-winning presenter on BBC Radio 3 and Radio 4. “A remarkable storyteller.” (Radio Times). 

John Higgs
John specialises in finding unsuspected narratives hidden in obscure corners of our history and culture. His books include The KLF (“By far the best book this year, brilliant, discursive and wise,” Ben Goldacre) and Stranger Than We Can Imagine: Making Sense of the Twentieth Century (“An illuminating work of massive insight.” Alan Moore). 

James Burt
James is a computer programmer who researches odd subjects in his spare time. He is currently looking into ley lines and writing a book on the history of the vindaloo. He speaks regularly at events such as Brighton Fringe, Melbourne Arts Festival, Miniclick, Brighton’s Catalyst Club and Wilderness Festival. 

Buy your tickets – or win a pair!

Buxton Festival Book Weekend 2016
7.30pm, Saturday 19 November
Pavilion Arts Centre, Buxton 

Tickets are £16 from the Buxton Festival website

We’re also giving away a pair of tickets together with a copy of the book. To enter, simply follow us on Twitter and retweet our Odditorium x Buxton Festival competition tweet. The winner will be announced on Monday 14 Nov.