Harry Potter Exhibition Comes To Huddersfield

It includes rare books, manuscripts and magical objects, as well as copies of materials from J.K. Rowling’s own collections.

Harry Potter has cast a spell over Huddersfield, and a lecturer at the town’s University will add some extra ingredients.  

They include a Cabinet of Curiosities in a collection of bizarre objects and the strange stories that go with them.

Nik Taylor is the University’s Subject Area Leader in Drama, Theatre and Performance, and his research speciality is performance magic.  

He performs himself specialising in the non-showbizzy branch termed Bizarre Magic and is co-curator of Mr Punch’s Cabinet of Curiosities, a travelling museum of weird artefacts.

On Saturday 25 November (11am - 3pm) it stops off at Huddersfield Library, as part of the  event named Harry Potter: A History of Magic.  

Running until 23 December, this has been created by a consortium of 21 libraries across the UK, in partnership with the British Library, as a celebration of the 20th anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, J.K. Rowling’s debut novel.

It includes images of items featured in the British Library’s exhibition, including rare books, manuscripts and magical objects, as well as copies of materials from J.K. Rowling’s own collections.

Lecturer Nik Taylor’s fascination for performance magic and its history pre-dates the Potter phenomenon, but he is in no doubt that the global popularity of the boy wizard has contributed to a surge of interest in the field, and he is impressed by evidence that J.K. Rowling had plainly carried out her research.

She has used some very interesting and historical notions of magic practice, bringing them into Hogwarts.  

She writes about alchemy, potions and divination, putting a Harry Potter twist on these subjects.

In order to tempt audiences, in the sideshow tradition, mystery surrounds the contents of the Cabinet of Curiosities, created three years ago by Nik Taylor and his collaborators, who perform as Ashton Carter and the Rev Tristan.

But pre-publicity reveals that it is hosted by “the Murderous Mr Punch” and is “a collection of strange objects and the stories that go with them, from the less well travelled parts of the world”.

Bizarre performers tend to go to auctions and pick up strange and interesting objects.  

We realised we all had an unusual collection of artefacts, and being specialists in bizarre magic, we are more interested in storytelling and the magic hidden within the objects.

The Cabinet includes some gruesome finds and it is stated that due to the nature of some of the exhibits “it may not be suitable for those of a nervous disposition.

In reality, says Nik Taylor, there is nothing scarier than a scary episode of Dr Who, and on its travels the Cabinet has proved especially popular with younger visitors.

In addition to the Cabinet, Nik also plans more contributions to the Harry Potter commemoration, including seminars and a talk based on the researches of the Magic Research Group that he heads at the University of Huddersfield.  

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