St Andrews University was founded in 1413, towards the end of the Middle Ages, in the year that Henry V became king. Myself, John Hartley (Difference Exchange) and Professor Clare Lees (Kings College) found ourselves 600 years later in the throng of the ritual of graduation at University of St Andrews, in amongst a large flock of medievalists exploring ‘The Middle Ages in The Modern World’.

Our purpose was to deliver a collaborative paper ‘A Kink in Colm Cille’s Spiral’, which outlined the Colm Cille Spiral project and aimed to ‘demonstrate the value of radical re-imagination for both artistic and academic approaches and insights.’

One of the key thoughts to come out of the paper was as Clare put it, ‘a folding of time and disciplinary distance’, with the projects working in a cross-disciplinary format with academics, historians, artists and poets. Clare further coined the phrase ‘reverse flow’, stating that the normal procedure was to use the past as a resource for the present, but that in this project she truly believed the present could be a resource for understanding the past through ‘historical readings coming into contact with unlikely contemporary touchstones’.

The other art-related session we saw that day at the conference was by Dr Neil Mulholland and Norman Hogg, who delivered an elegiac dystopian presentation from their forthcoming publication ‘thN Lng folk 2go’ by the collective ‘The Confraternity of Neoflagellants’ www.confraternityofneoflagellants.org.uk . The group’s by-line is ‘Investigating Premodern Futures’, which again sees this folding of time. The audience was presented with scenes, objects and shamans from contemporary culture, filtered through the gaze of neomedievalism. Mundane car parts became the artefacts of our age and Celine Dion was seen as a Saint.

With a conference-goer making the analogy that Medievalism was ‘the period of the hybrid’, this connection and ‘time fold’ between the contemporary and the extreme past does begin to look like it can contain more resonance as we continue in the Spiral.