Spectral Visions: An Interview 5 Years On
Spectral Visions is a student/staff partnership which has grown over the past five years. It now has a publishing outlet known as Spectral Visions Press and has developed a team of “visionaries”.
The three co-directors are Alison Younger, Colin Younger and Steve Watts.
Sophie Dishman spoke to a number of those visionaries about Spectral Visions and how successful it has become for members.
Sophie: What is your name and role within Spectral Visions?
Michelle: My name is Michelle McCabe. I have several roles in Spectral Visions. I am The Research Team Leader for the newly formed Supernatural Wearside project, I’m the Proof Reading Deputy Team Leader, and I’m also editing for the Tarot project. I also have an ad hoc mentoring role for students.
Jenah: My name is Jenah Colledge. I am a team leader within Spectral Visions.
David: I’m David Newton and I’m a volunteer for Spectral Visions. As I understand it, I’m head of the Design Team. I work with the illustrators doing graphic design for book covers and posters. I also do photography (and sometimes music) for events.
Jessica: Jessica Cartner. My role in SV is not set in stone really. I’m the Facebook admin for two of our pages and according to Alison and Colin, I’m good at welcoming people, bringing them on board. I need to find out officially.
S: What is Spectral Visions?
Michelle: It’s an evolving and growing organism which has its roots in the Gothic. It is a family, a community, and a place for the Visionaries to grow in confidence and abilities.
David: Spectral Visions is a growing and developing group of creative people with interests in Gothic literature. Some are staff and students from Sunderland University, but with a growing number of outside connections. I have a feeling it might become a movement in the not too distant future. Its function is hard to describe briefly as it is evolving rapidly.
Jessica: Spectral Visions was originally an initiative to consider the Gothic in its myriad forms, for people to communicate a love of the Gothic. This was demonstrated in conferences organised every summer for A-Level students studying the genre. We still hold that as the core value of Spectral Visions, and we still plan to do the conferences, but we’ve also expanded with our own University Press.
S: Why was it set up? Who set it up?
Michelle: It was set up to attract potential students from local schools about four years ago, but the Spectral Visions Press was launched a year ago.
David: It was set up by The Younger family (Colin and Alison) to assist Gothic studies at the University.
Jessica: It was set up by Alison and Colin Younger, alongside other staff and students.
S. Why did you join SV?
Michelle: I found out about the Spectral Visions Conference relatively late in the process, but it didn’t stop me wanting to help out. I remember the first job I had was setting up the conference venue the night before it and meeting Aoife, Alison and Colin Younger’s wonderful German Shepherd Dog! Since then, I’ve helped out at Open Days at the university and Sunderland College, taken part in performances and presentations and written for the Spectral Visions books. I feel like it is a home from home!
Jenah: Spectral Visions has given me so much in order to develop a wide range of skills including, marketing, editing, events organising, publishing, writing and responsibility. It has changed my life and me as a person.
David: Before Spectral Visions, there was NEICN (North East Irish Culture Network) which was an academic group for Irish Studies. I helped NEICN with music, photography, video and web design. When SV came about I helped with the same sort of activities.
Jessica: My friend Emma told me about the SV Christmas lunch that was coming up last year, and she said she would get my friend Caitlin to add me to the group. I said: ‘Okay’, knowing that I had a bit of an interest in the Gothic, but perhaps not as much as the Visionaries. I didn’t expect how fully involved I would become, and how my interest would grow, over the following year!
S: What do you like about Spectral Visions?
Michelle: I felt I needed to get involved with something that I would love, but also would help develop my skills.
Jessica: The members are open to new ideas: the ‘buzz’ on the group page when a project is announced is wonderful to see, and participate in if you want to, too.
S: How has Spectral Visions changed your university experience?
Michelle: It’s enriched my experience so much and I’ve met and discussed the Gothic with so many fascinating people!
Jenah: Starting at the University of Sunderland has definitely rewarded me with opportunities in writing, that I may not have had if I weren’t studying here.
David: It is the creative side of Spectral Visions that attracts me and the people of course, but it is also a great source of learning. My university time was long ago and science based so Spectral Visions has opened up a view on the literary and creative world.
Jessica: It’s enriched my university experience: I’m part of a group where I can explore an interest in a particular genre of literature and media with passionate, supportive people.
If you are a University of Sunderland student and are interested, you can find more information on Facebook – Spectral Visions.