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THE SPEAKERS - click an image for biography


Philip Marvin

lecturer and teacher

Marianne Rankin


Peter Fenwick


Bernard Carr

Professor of Mathematics and Astronomy

James D'Angelo


Richard Hobday

independent consultant, researcher and lecturer

Jeffery Courtney


The Art, Science and Spirit of Light

There is more to light than meets the eye. The Art, Science and Spirit of Light is a three day event running over two consecutive weekends which will explore the nature of light from a scientific, artistic, psychological and spiritual perspective.

Light is so fundamental to our lives and life itself that we tend to overlook it. Yet our greatest spiritual figures, our most universally admired artists, philosophers and scientists have sought to penetrate its mysteries for thousands of years. This event will go to the heart of these explorations and ask quite simply: What is light?

In so doing it will not limit itself to a materialistic paradigm but create a bridge between the physical and metaphysical perspective on light. So not only will we explain and discuss the pathways that led to the paradoxes of current theories on light centred on quantum physics but we will look deeply into the insights and intuitions of ages past that have seen light as being fundamental to our own consciousness and human b-e-i-n-g.

In a world where terrorism, inequality, poverty, ecological disaster, war, corruption and mental suffering cast an overarching shadow through our daily intake of news and current affairs, this is the perfect time to 'turn to the light' and understand profoundly what that means.

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light not our darkness, that most frightens us".

This event will draw inspiration from 'above' and 'below' to penetrate to the core of the mystery of light and its natural expression through beauty, reason and unconditional love.

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Each day will begin with registration and tea and coffee at 9:30 and end at around 16:30. There will be two talks each morning between 10:00 and 13:00. A break for lunch will be followed by a further two talks each afternoon from 14:15 until 16:15 where the day will close with a Q&A session. Sunday the 14th will include a performance in the afternoon of "Music of Light" by James D'Angelo and friends.


The Science of Light (6th May) - click here for details

From the scientific point of view of today light can be narrowly defined as the visible portion of the electromagnetic spectrum; and this can be broadened out to include infrared, ultraviolet and x-ray wavelengths that are not visible to the eye. But is that the whole story? Since Michael Faraday's proposal in 1847 that light was a high frequency electromagnetic vibration the history of modern science has seen that narrow point of view open up in the light of the revolutionary insights of quantum theory originally evolved through the work of physicist Max Planck at the beginning of the 20th century and then developed further by Einstein and others to the point where today light can be described as both a particle and a wave depending on the way it is tested and the crucial act of observation itself.

Meanwhile chemical biologists are improving our understanding of light's role in the natural world. Solar radiation has been a constant feature on Earth and organisms have evolved to detect and respond to light in numerous ways, ranging from photosynthesis to circadian rhythms and vision itself. Understanding how these and other systems convert photons into energy or biological signals is an increasing focus of research. But is seeking to define the mechanistic detail of these processes and striving to more closely imitate them, enough? Today we will briefly trace the history of the evolution of scientific thought on light itself and its crucial role in the biological world of which we are so much a part and on which we utterly depend. We will ask whether scientific definitions and approaches can finally solve the mystery of what Light actually is.

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The Art of Light (7th May) - click here for details

An artist depends on light for inspiration. Whether a painter, a writer, a sculptor, a dancer, a musician etc. the true artist seeks to penetrate beyond outer form to the essence and express his/her 'insight' as truly and authentically as possible. But what is the nature of this light and of this insight? When a painter such as Rembrandt painted his own self-portrait again and again reflecting each time a unique emotional quality and sensitivity to the infinite nuances of light, what was going on? How do you express the Light beyond the ever-changing natural light experienced through the exquisite mechanics of the eye and the natural laws of reflection and refraction, in turn producing an emotional response, again of infinite possibilities. Is there such a Light beyond light?

What about light and love? Love is fundamental to our existence as human beings and with love comes light, experienced physically, mentally and emotionally. How have the greatest writers, such as Shakespeare, sought to penetrate to the heart of that relationship between love and light on both a personal and universal scale? And in the built environment how do we best make use of light? How does great architecture best channel the powerful rays of the sun to benefit us physically, mentally, emotionally and even spiritually? Further, what is the relationship between light and its physical source, the sun, and our own health and wellbeing? These and many other questions will be reflected upon.

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The Spirit of Light (14th May) - click here for details

Throughout human history there has been a direct relationship between light and Man's spiritual strivings through the great religions and philosophical and spiritual teachings of the world. The light reflected through the stain glass windows of a great Gothic cathedral or tracked symbolically and reverentially in the cycles of the sun and stars as part of nature's seasonal flow at key religious centres such as Stonehenge, is one and the same. It has a physical reality but points to a subtler manifestation of light that may blossom in the heart and mind of the human being.

The play between light and darkness within the human soul reflected in the full spectrum of human possibilities from the deepest compassion and wisdom to the direst cruelty and ignorance is the story of humanity's spiritual quest expressed everywhere on the planet over the millennia. In all such traditions the idea of 'enlightenment' or 'illumination' plays a central part. Whether expressed in terms of a God or gods or through the transformation in being and understanding arising from turning to a divine light within, through spiritual disciplines and practices such as meditation, there is a persistent and consistent theme of light as being not only beautiful and auspicious but also mysterious in its essential nature. An essential nature that points beyond the qualities of nature experienced through the senses to Life itself, beyond time, space and all mental projection or conceptualisation. Is there such a thing as spiritual light, the source and life of the universe itself, of all 'suns' in all dimensions and on all scales? Is it blazing invisibly with a sheer immediacy that we are normally blind to?

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Information on Tickets:

We are offering an early bird discount of 20% up until April 14th. The event is designed to run across three days and we do hope you can join us throughout. That said, we are offering as much flexibility as possible regarding ticket purchases. You can participate in one, two or all three days.
Prices are as follows:
1 day: £60 (£48 with discount)
2 days:£110 (£88 with discount)
3 days:£150 (£120 with discount)

If you do not wish to purchase tickets via Eventbrite please send a cheque made out to The Study Society to:
Mr. Thomas Phillips
Colet House
151 Talgarth Road
London W14 9DA
(Please notes any cheques will need to be received by April 19th to qualify for the early bird discount)

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E-mail: office@studysociety.org
Phone: 020 8748 9338
Fax: 020 8563 0551


The Study Society
Colet House
151 Talgarth Road
W14 9DA
United Kingdom

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