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Artist Juliette Grace has made her Palace of Green Porcelain installation from 10 green bottles and a green porcelain Easter Bunny

A change of direction for The Time Machine

With national Covid-19 guidelines changing daily, this year’s A Town Explores A Book is proving to be responsive to the new non-contact environment. HOT’s Erica Smith reports on the present plans and what the future holds.

As we come to terms with our dystopian present, ‘A Town Explores A Book’ has re-invented itself to become a virtual festival – and now we are in lock-down for the next three months, what better way to spend our time than to curl up at home with a science fiction classic?


A palace of green porcelain window being prepared at the Contemporary Music School by Peter Price.

This is the fourth year that residents of St Leonards-on-Sea have been encouraged to grab hold of an English Literature classic, dust it down, check it out and come up with responses to the novel that the author might never have imagined.

The previous years’ novels have been Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, Dickens’ Great Expectations and Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre. With a publishing date of 1895, The Time Machine is the most recent book to be explored so far.

The first element of this year’s festival to be launched is an exploration in real-world and digital windows of the ‘palace of green porcelain’ that the Time Traveller discovers in the year 802,701 AD.

The Palace of Green Porcelain imagined by Alice Beadle

The Palace of Green Porcelain imagined by Alice Beadle.

“As the hush of evening crept over the world and we proceeded over the hill crest towards Wimbledon, Weena grew tired and wanted to return to the house of grey stone. But I pointed out the distant pinnacles of the Palace of Green Porcelain to her, and contrived to make her understand that we were seeking a refuge there from her Fear.” H.G.Wells

Katie from Teddy Tinker’s emporium at the top end of London Road has encouraged children and adults to start with a piece of green porcelain and develop a palace from their imagination… it can be a drawing, a poem or a construction. It can hang in your window, or in the corner of your room, and the palaces can be shared on the ‘A Town Explores a Book’ Instagram, Twitter and Facebook feeds. Use the hashtag #PalaceofGreenPorcelain.


Listen to Khalil Patwa read from The Time Machine via the festival Facebook page.

Wells’ fantastic ruined palace setting in The Time Machine has inspired adventure writing, film and video games in the 125 years since the publication of his iconic novella. His descriptions of the mysterious Palace of Green Porcelain offer us an opportunity to consider our contemporary delight in opulent decaying architecture and historical environments of alluring fascination.

We can ponder how Wells’ writing has become inspirational for the adventure genre. Wells was writing at the end of the nineteenth century when artists revelled in the wonder of the ruin. Inhabiting an imperial world, his creation of the palace is also a chance to ponder the complexities of our response to the ‘exotic’ aesthetic and our historical legacy.

To find out more about how you can use your time in self-isolation to explore The Time Machine and build your own Palace of Green Porcelain, visit the A Town Explores a Book website.

You can also listen to Khalil Patwa reading from The Time Machine every afternoon at 4pm, starting on Thursday 2 April. Watch live on the Facebook page, or catch up later on Facebook and the festival website.
The Time Machine is also available on line as a free eBook and audio book.

Posted 10:55 Monday, Mar 30, 2020 In: Festivals

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