Saturday, January 23, 2010

Just landed at Heathrow. Like old times. Grey cold skies, threatening rain but all is well. It’s a long way in to central London from Heathrow, even longer from terminal 5. I’m on my way to the AGM of the Magic Lantern Society of Great Britain. The meeting is held in a building tucked away in a small side street near Euston Station. We are meeting in the headquarters of the Magic Circle, the magician’s society of Great Britain. It is a wonderful building. There are magic posters running up and down the stairs. Our meeting is held mostly in the auditorium.

I have known many of the people in attendance for thirty years and they share my passion for collecting magic lanterns. The highlight of the day was a talk on Etienne Robertson and his Phantasmagoria show. Robertson was a great showman who not only projected images, but also employed a bag full of magic tricks to create the atmosphere of anxiety and fear which heightened the show’s power. After the talk we were treated to the projection of a number of phantasmagoria slides. If you want to learn more about Roberstson and the phantasmagoria you can read Mervyn Heard’s excellent book, Phantasmagoria: The Secret Life of the Magic Lantern or you can visit the web site Early Visual Media and see some original phantasmagoria material.

Another treat of the meeting were the sales/trade tables. One of the nice things I came away with was this Japanese illustration of two peepshows.

click thumbnail to see the whole piece

We also got to see some friends and go to a great jazz club, Club 606. Tucked away in the basement on Lots Road (near the Chelsea Harbour Hotel), this club offers wonderful music and decent food.

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