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D.H. Lawrence Memory Theatre

DH Lawrence comic on BBC East Midlands Today
Digital producer Paul Fillingham, student Richard Weare and literary producer James Walker. Source: BBC

James Walker and Paul Fillingham specialise in the creation of interdisciplinary collaborative digital works that explore Nottingham’s literary and cultural heritage. 

“We want to retrace D.H.Lawrence’s Savage Pilgrimage, explore his significance as a writer, and develop a personalised travel-trunk as a ‘Cabinet of Curiosity’ or Memory Theatre.”


D.H. Lawrence was a controversial writer who championed sensuality in an over-intellectualised world. In the 1920s he embarked on a journey of self-discovery known as his ‘Savage Pilgrimage’ which took him across Europe, Asia, Australia and Mexico. Accompanying him on his journey was a travel-trunk which had various compartments and drawers.

Lawrence Travel Trunk
D.H. Lawrence’s monogrammed travel trunk.


Whilst attending an exhibition of Lawrence’s ‘Banned Paintings’, Paul became intrigued by one of the exhibits; a monogrammed travel trunk, which in addition to housing Lawrence’s socks and undergarments, would have contained manuscripts, sketches and stories, as he toured the globe. The trunk accompanied the author and his lover Frieda on their ‘Savage Pilgrimage’ as they escaped England for Europe, Asia, Australia and Mexico.

Arundal Cabinet at the Harley Gallery, Nottinghamshire
James and Paul viewed this remarkable cabinet of curiosities (Arundel Cabinet, 1630 – Part of the Portland Collection) at the Harley Gallery in North Nottinghamshire.

In 2013, during a visit to the Harley Gallery in North Nottinghamshire, Paul and James discussed the concept of a D.H. Lawrence memory theatre. It was here, that they chanced upon the Arundel Cabinet (1630), an ornate and imposing example of a ‘cabinet of curiosities’. These objects enjoyed great popularity across Europe in the Seventeenth Century. In Germany, they were known as Kunstkabinett or Kunstkammer. In England they were sometimes referred to as ‘wonder rooms’ or ‘memory theatres’. These repositories were used by rulers and aristocracy to convey their knowledge and command of the world through the classification, curation and presentation of artefacts in miniature.


An extension of the duo’s previous digital literature projects; the D.H. Lawrence Memory Theatre will journey in both physical and digital form. A beautifully crafted work of art in its own right; drawers and compartments will contain objects, documents, poetry, paintings and essays. Integrated touch-screens will offer a glimpse into the digital heart of the memory theatre and the mind and soul of D.H. Lawrence. As the Memory Theatre travels in physical and digital form, it will also capture user-generated content, accumulating its own savage history and provenance..

YouTube video – What would people like to see in the memory theatre? (Early concepts).

Web design: thinkamigo | DH Lawrence Memory Theatre © Fillingham & Walker