'Restore the enchantment of childhood' at Scarborough Art Gallery's 13 Club

Two leading academics will speak at Scarborough Art Gallery later this month on the topic of fossils and folklore – and hope to ‘restore the enchantment of childhood’ for their audience.

Social psychologist Professor Stephen Sayers from Leeds Metropolitan University and paleontologist Dr Paul Taylor from the Natural History Museum will speak at the 13 Club  – a supper club at the Gallery inspired by the Victorian gentlemen’s club of the same name. Attendees can enjoy an informal supper while listening to two fascinating talks inspired by the current exhibition at the Art Gallery, Fears, Foes and Faeries (until 30 September). The 13 Club supper will take place from 7pm (doors open 6pm) on Friday 31 August, and the £15 fee includes supper – wine and soft drinks will also be available.

Stephen Sayers says: “One of my interests is in the psychology of folklore. ‘Folklore’ is shorthand for myths, legends, fairy stories, astrology, superstitions, tarot, runes and so on. My interest is not in debunking it, but in the very opposite: I’m interested in how these things work.

“For almost a year now I’ve been transcribing four volumes journals by William Clarke, the Scarborough naturalist whose collection of charms and amulets form the basis of Fears, Foes and Faeries. I’ll be talking about the collection – I want to know why certain objects were thought to be lucky, or able to protect you, or cure you. Why was this object thought to do it and not another one? I want to know too, what the psychological effects of belief in these amulets are: how does believing in their power change you? In what sense, if any, do they really help you?

“There are real mysteries to be found amongst these things; real mysteries that can be explored and understood and enjoyed. If I can do that, it might restore the enchantment of childhood to some people’s lives.”

Paul Taylor says: “My talk will explore the peculiar myths that developed around fossils in the pre-scientific era, some still believed by modern societies. I will show how most of these myths have their basis in the chance resemblance between these fossils and objects to which they bear no relationship.”

Advance booking is essential for the 13 Club – please call 01723 374753 or 353665.