This artist book is part of the 18-month project ‘Spirited Stoke: Spiritualism in the Everyday Life of Stok-on-Trent (SpELS)’ funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council AHRC and developed by the Open University.
Design: Marco Scerri
First Edition of 500
More info on the research project here
NATURE LIGHT TRUTH
the work is part of the 18-month project ‘Spirited Stoke: Spiritualism in the Everyday Life of Stok-on-Trent (SpELS)’ funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council AHRC and developed by the Open University
Daniele’s work explored the boundaries between the academic research and his practice as an artist and a photographer, responding to Stoke-on-Trent as a place in transformation, celebrating its architecture, people and their stories.
Throughout the twentieth century, Stoke-on- Trent was the national hub of a thriving spiritualist movement. Yet few are aware of this hidden legacy, which has been overshadowed by the city’s industrial heritage. This exhibition and the book are part of the 18-month project ‘Spirited Stoke: Spiritualism in the Everyday Life of Stoke-on-Trent (SpELS)’ funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and developed by the Open University. The overall aim of the SpELS research project is to acknowledge the place of spirit in the everyday life of this very unique city, drawing on insights from the practices of the local Spiritualist churches and their congregations. The hidden history of Spiritualism reveals a mysterious and enchanted side to Stoke-on-Trent that continues to exist in the city’s urban fabric, and plays an enduring role in the modern Spiritualist Movement.
Until 1951, when the witchcraft act was repealed, Spiritualism was everywhere in the sense that Spiritualists would utilise all kinds of rooms and buildings as places of worship, so it could turn up almost anywhere. Living rooms in private homes played a pivotal role as places of the everyday spirituality. The book and the exhibition are about celebrating this heritage.
The three words Nature, Light and Truth, albeit in a different order, are present in the National Spiritualists Union logo, and evoke the history of the photographic medium, where nature constantly changes the world around us, light is literally embedded in the word photography and truth links with that belief in objectivity, which since not too long ago was making a print into a proof, evidence.
Sara stopped the car and parked just outside one of the former sites of a Spiritualist meeting place, now a private house. I got out of the car and walked towards the entrance of a beautiful old building. I wasn’t carrying my tripod since this was the rst round of visits to the Spiritualist locations and getting an idea of the place was more than enough. I had just managed to get the camera to be steady and composed the image when the house owner opened the door – and he proceeded to tell me a little bit about the history of the place he lived in.
I had his permission to take another photograph, and walked back to the car.
A few days passed and in a different street, busy with another photograph, the same man recognised me and came over to see what I was up to. The next day I was invited for supper at his place with his family. While having our sh and chips he told me that since our brief first encounter he discovered several boxes in his attic which he thought might interest me. Did I want to browse through them?
Books, paper-works, mouldy certificates, maps and old photographs. Someone’s whole life was hiding in his attic. In the 1930s the building was registered as the Greater World Christian Spiritualist Church. These found materials may have had a direct relationship to this time, to Spiritualism, or they may simply be the forgotten belongings of a previous occupier. Fascinated by the discovery and by the fading charm of some of them, I decided to include some fragments, scattering throughout the book, as a reminder of the physical relationship between sense of place, time and memory. They are part of the intangible history of this building.
They part loss and part celebration of the every day.
With my work I tried to explore the boundaries between the academic research and my practice as an artist and a photographer, responding to Stoke-on-Trent as a place in transformation, trying to celebrate its architecture, people and their stories.