Enjoy a night with the museum

Kala the Arts at Reading Abbey Ruins is one of the events covered by the MERL GLOW virtual gathering this evening. 
Chris Forsey

The Museum of English Rural Life (The MERL) is bringing a glow to lockdown by taking the latest of its ever-popular Late events tonight.

As part of the Being Human Festival, The MERL is hosting GLOW – an evening of exploration of linked themes of light and darkness, harvest and festivals, community and celebration – live on YouTube.

The programme offers an opportunity for all to enjoy Diwali cultural heritage thanks to Reading’s Kala the Arts, combined with virtual experiences and talks from the University of Reading and beyond.

Anna Jones, public programmes manager at The MERL, said: “We love hosting Lates and did not want a lockdown to stop us bringing Reading, and maybe now the world, the very best of conversation, culture and cocktails inspired by rural life.”

Anna will be joined by Dr Ollie Douglas, curator of MERL Collections, for an evening of conversation by the virtual fireside with actual cocktails from Milk Bar Reading.

Special MERL mixed cocktails can be booked for advance delivery at www.milkreading.com

Topics covered include:

Discover Diwali with Dr Shalini Sinha, philosopher at the University of Reading; see artist Bhajan Hunjan create a MERL harvest jug-inspired Rangoli; and hear about the impact of electrification on farming and farmers from Dr Jeremy Burchardt, historian at the University of Reading.

Find out how to make a Diya lamp and about their importance in Diwali celebrations; be illuminated by Solar divinities in Ancient Egypt and oil lamps in Cyprus and Rome with Dr Jayne Holly, Curator of the University’s Ure Museum; and reflect on the relationship between light and dark with Dr Neil Cocks, from the Department of English Literature at the University.

Uncover the Day of the Dead with Reading archaeologts Dr Alanna Cant; delve into the dark side of the landscape with Dr Paddy Bullard, from the Department of English Literature at the University of Reading; and for the grand finale, watch the sunset on Reading Abbey Ruins with tabla drums, santoor and vocals, and performances inspired by Odissi dance with Kala the Arts.

Being Human is the UK’s only national festival of the humanities. A celebration of humanities research through public engagement, it is led by the School of Advanced Study at the University of London, the UK’s national centre for the pursuit, support and promotion of research in the humanities, in partnership with the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the British Academy.

Kala The Arts works with local, national and international artists to create innovative artistically high quality South Asian dance and music. The company creates new professional pieces of work for touring to arts venues, outdoor spaces and festivals. Working with The MERL, Reading Museum and Reading Abbey, Kala the Arts has created a programme of work during 2020 to promote diversity, integration and encourages community cohesion.

The event runs from 7pm to 10pm on Thursday, November 19. To tune in, search YouTube for GLOW: A MERL Late

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