I am an artist, author and curator with an international reputation for writing books, collaborating on multi-media projects and creating artworks that examine place, and explore themes of memory and identity. I currently combine writing and research with a part-time post as a Reader at MMU alongside working as an archivist and historian at London’s oldest Ashkenazi synagogue Sandys Row. My latest creative project involves deep research into Jewish settlement in East London and the Caribbean. Although I am probably best known for my books I originally trained as a sculptor, which gave me a unique way of looking at the world. I use many of the methodologies and creative practises I developed during my art training in my writing, which is experimental in its format and often involves collaborations with practioners in other disciplines including film, archaeology, performance, digital technology and historical geography. Alongside writing and making artwork I curate and host literary festivals and events, write articles for newspapers and periodicals. I travel a lot of for research and love spending time in archives and libraries.
I have combined teaching with my own creative practise for over twenty-five years, working in galleries, museums, schools, universities and many other institutions running workshops and residential courses, alongside lecturing, mentoring and supervising students. I am passionate about what I do and enjoy sharing the experiences, pitfalls and shortcuts I have learnt along the way as well as the advice that has been imparted to me over the years from the many other artists and writers I have been lucky enough to work alongside. Writing, researching and teaching are all collaborative processes for me, and an essential part of my working life as an author.
Place Writing is an active, dynamic process that involves a deep interaction with people and environments. Get walking - immerse yourself in your subject by being there physically with your feet on the ground.
BA (Hons) Fine Art Sculpture
2008 - 2017: Research Fellow and lecturer on Creative Writing: Writing the City MA (University of Westminster)
2011 - ongoing: Curator of Shorelines Literary Festival of the Sea
2013 - ongoing: Archivist and historian (part-time) Sandys Row Synagogue, Spitalfields
Right now is an exciting time to engage with the increasingly popular genre of Place Writing. Contemporary British non fiction writers and poets are gaining a global reputation as leaders in this field, in both landscape writing and urban explorations. As one of the few women currently operating within the fuzzily defined genre of pyscogeography, whose work has focused on a deep exploration of place for nearly twenty years, I am absolutely delighted to be teaching on both the MA and BA Place Writing courses at MMU, which are the first of their kind in the U.K. Along with other lecturers at MMU I will introduce you to the genre through a series of practical workshops exploring techniques and methodologies employed by many place writers working today, alongside examining and discussing keys texts together. As well as being a practising writer I have also curated and hosted multiple literary events and festivals with other writers, artists, poets and filmmakers working in this field. I look forward to introducing you to their work and sharing some of the wider ideaologies, practises and ideas about the genre from writers working internationally.
My research specialisms lie in the fields of: nineteenth and twentieth century British Jewish history, Jewish settlement in the Caribbean, digital writing, London history, pyschogeography, oral history and place writing.
R. Lichtenstein (2016). Estuary: Out from London to the Sea. Penguin.
R. Lichtenstein, I. Sinclair (2014). Rodinsky's Room. Granta Books.
R. Lichtenstein (2013). Diamond Street: The Hidden World of Hatton Garden. Penguin.
R. Lichtenstein (2008). On Brick Lane. Penguin UK.
R. Lichtenstein (1999). Rodinsky's Whitechapel.
N. Finneran, R. Lichtenstein, C. Welch (2019). Place, Space and Memory in the Old Jewish East End of London: an Archaeological Biography of Sandys Row Synagogue, Spitalfields and its Wider Context. International Journal of Historical Archaeology. 23(2), pp.380-403.
R. Lichtenstein (2018). The Lost Synagogue of Speightstown: New Findings in the Light of Recent Investigations. Journal of the Barbados Museum and Historical Society. LXIV(85th Anniversary Edition), pp.196-226.
R. Lichtenstein, R. Macfarlane, J. Griffiths (2015). FIVE DIALS no.36 Landmarkings.
RC. Lichtenstein (2018). Bata-Ville. In: Radical Essex. Focal Point Gallery,
RC. Lichtenstein (2016). Cecil Gee. In: Moses, Mods and Mr. Fish The Menswear Revolution.
RC. Lichtenstein (2013). Jew Boy. In: London Fictions. Five Leaves,
RC. Lichtenstein (2012). Introduction to new edition. In: London E1.
RC. Lichtenstein (2007). Avram Nachum Stencl. In: London City of Disappearances. Penguin UK,
RC. Lichtenstein (2006). Rachel Lichtenstein in conversation with Stephen Turner. In: Stephen Turner - Seafort.
RC. Lichtenstein (2002). Rodinsky's Whitechapel. In: Off limits 40 Artangel projects. Merrell Publishers,
RC. Lichtenstein, D. Alan (2001). University of the Ghetto. In: The Whitechapel Art Gallery centenary review.
2018 Rachel Lichtenstein and Gregory Norminton, Antony Burgess Foundation, Manchester
2018 In Conversation with Bernard Kops, National Portrait Gallery
2018 Ashkenazi Jewish Experience in Barbados, National Museum of Barbados
2017 The Last London, in conversation with Iain Sinclair, Second Home, London
2017 The Untold Story of Sandys Row, Bishopsgate Institute
2017 Author’s Club Lunch talk Estuary, National Liberal Club
2017 Paperback launch Estuary, Chalkwell Hall, Essex
2017 Ted Sandling & Rachel Lichtenstein, Waterstones Gower Street
2017 Essex Book Festival: Estuary
2017 Testaments to Constancy and Change: Jewish Book Week with Alexandra Harris
2017 Spitalfields with Dan Cruickshank: Jewish Book Week
2017 Artists on Sea, in conversation with Simon Fowler, Beecroft Art Gallery
2016 Landscape, Identity and the London Spill: Essex Architecture Weekend
2016 On the Docks: Stories from the River (5x15 and Totally Thames) with Richard Wilson, Inua Ellams and Iain Sinclair (Trinity Bouy Wharf)
2016 Shorelines, Estuary Festival: official book launch with Prince Michael of Sealand, Patrick Wright, Julian Hoffman, Ken Worpole and Steve Bode (Tilbury Cruise Terminal)
2016 The Landlubbers Maritime Folk Festival with Travis Elborough ( Maritime Museum)
2016 Estuary to Tide: Rachel Lichtenstein and Hugh Aldersley-Williams (Stanfords)
2016 Estuary with Ken Worpole and Gareth Evans (LRB Bookshop)
2016 Rachel Lichtenstein in conversation with John Rodgers (Wanstead Tap)
2016 After London, The Cass Bank Gallery, exhibition to coincide with Estuary
2016 The Search for the Lost Synagogue of Speightstown (National Museum, Barbados)
2015 Penned in the Margins: London Quarterly, event with Helen Macdonald (The Forge, Camden)
2015 London Overground event with Iain Sinclair (Port Eliot Festival, Cornwall)
2015 Emigrating Landscapes (Essex Book Festival)
2015 Memory, Place and Landscape (Antony Burgess Foundation, Manchester)
2014 Jewish Londoners - talk and panel discussion (London Metropolitan Archives)
2014 ESTUARY - panel discussion & presentation with Jeremy Millar (Whitstable Biennale)
2014 East End in focus: Synagogue Stories - an oral history project (Bishopsgate Inst)
2014 Diamond Street - illustrated talks (Guildhall Library, London Literary Festival, Southbank Centre, V&A, London Met Archives, British Library, Jewish Book Week, Authors Club)
2014 Migration and culture in the East End - 1800 to the present – presentation and panel discussion with Ruth Novaczek and Sander Gilman (Rich Mix Centre, London)
2014 Estuary: A Deep Exploration of Place – illustrated talk (Essex University)
2013 The New English Landscape - panel discussion Ken Worpole and Gareth Evans (LRB bookshop)
2013 Shorelines: festival of literature of the Sea - talk on Estuary project (LCC, Essex)
2013 Worlds Lit Festival - participant & provocation on Diamond Street App (Norwich Cathedral)
2013 Urban Wandering Series –Diamond Street App (Barbican)
2013 On Location: Writers, Sounds and Places – in association with Guardian: presentation and panel discussion with Madeline Bunting, Alice Oswald and Marina Warner (British Library)
2013 Underground London: Lost Rivers: Writing the Psychogeology of London – illustrated talk and panel discussion with Tom Chivers (Bishopsgate Institute)
2013 London Fictions presentation & panel discussion with Cathi Unsworth & Lisa Gee (London Review of Books shop)
2012 The City & The City: art work by contemporary London writers – salon event with Caroline Bergvall, Tom McCarthy, Sukhdev Sandhu & Rod Dickinson (SPACE Gallery, Pittsburgh)
2012 SALON: London in Literature – with Sukhdev Sandhu & Graig Taylor (Metal, Essex)
2012 ADRIFT: writers discuss the environment & the city - with Tom Chivers, Ruth Little, Daniel Kramb, Michael McKinn (Toynbee studios, London)
2012 PLACE: ‘The Garden” and the Waters – symposium (Snape Maltings, Suffolk)
2012 Landscape & Literature podcast: Rachel Lichtenstein in Whitechapel by Madeline Bunting, Guardian Podcast series on authors who write about London.
2011 Remembering W.G. Max Seblad – with Anthea Bell, Iain Sinclair, A.S.Byatt, Marina Warner, Andrew Motion and others (Wiltons Music Hall)
2011 London in Fiction: The Jewish East End in the Radical 1930s in conversation with Ken Worpole discussing Simon Blumenfield’s Jew Boy (Bishopsgate Institute)
2011 After Sebald Weekend: Writing the City, Memory, Landscape and Place - lecture at writers symposium event (curated by Artevents), with Robert Macfarlane, Richard Mabey, Alexander Harris, Patti Smith and others (Snape Maltings, Suffolk)
2018 Rothschild Foundation Hannadiv Europe (Sandys Row Synagogue Archive Project)
2016 HLF Grant (Histories of the Hoo Peninsula)
2015 Authors Foundation Grant
2015 Jewish Historical Society Award
2013. HLF Grant - Hidden Histories Project
2012. Grants for the Arts Arts Council Award Diamond Street App
2010. Grants for the Arts Arts Council Award Hadliegh in Place Residency
2017 Histories of the Hoo Peninsula - project manager of HLF funded oral history project
2016 Estuary Festival - curator of literary side of multi-venue, multi-disciplinary festival
2016 Spitalfields Immigration Festival (co-curator)
2014 Hidden Histories Project Manager – Heritage Lottery Fund-funded oral history and archive project for Sandys Row Synagogue, Spitalfields
2013 Study for the Estuary (film collaboration with James Price) screened as: Guardian podcast, on BBC London news, at Trinity Bouy Wharf London Open House Weekend, STILL exhibition Chalkwell Hall, Snape Maltings & Quadrangle Film Festival.
2013 Shorelines: literary festival of the sea: 2013 (hosted by Metal, Southend-on-Sea). Curated the festival programme. Speakers included: Ian Sinclair, Deborah Levy, Travis Elborough, Ken Worpole, Caroline Bergvall, Philip Hoare, Robert Macfarlane, Cathi Unsworth and others.
2013 Estuary: Working Lives - short film part of exhibition Hadleigh: Experience of Place 2012 Diamond Street App: Developed and produced multimedia GPS activated digital app exploring the territory around Hatton Garden (Arts Council funded project)
2012 Our Mutual Friends – tumblr walks of Dickensian London by 6 well-known writers (FVU)
2011 Co-curator of Shorelines: the world’s first literary festival of the sea, with Lemn Sissay. Speakers included Icelandic author Sjon, Roma Tearne, Ian Sinclair, Jay Griffiths, Yang Lian and others (hosted by Metal in Chalkwell Park, Essex).
2011 Estuary Project – five day experiental trip along Thames Estuary in 80ft Dutch barge with artists, archeologist, musician, filmmaker and cartographer (Arts Council)
2010 Chalkwell Hall – film project of oral history recollections & archival research.
2012 Sight Unseen – solo show Tintype Gallery, London (multi-media installation)
2012 The City & The City: Contemporary artwork by London Writers - group show with Rod Dickinson, Tom McGarthy, Iain Sinclair, Chris Petit, Sukhdev Sandhu and Caroline Bergvall (Woodstreet Gallery, Pittsburgh, U.S.A)
2008 Eastbound:Hidden Histories - curated, produced & exhibited in multi-media exhibition with Iain Sinclair, Marketa Luskacova & others (The Crypt, Christ Church Spitalfields, Arts Council)
2007 London Disappearances - artwork in multi-media installation (Tate Britain)
2004 Creative Research Fellow at The British Library - 2 year fellowship culminating in a photographic installation in the foyer of the library & publication A Little Dust Whispered.
2003 Keeping Pace: Older Women of The East End - curated exhibition (The Women’s Library)
2003 World in The East End exhibition – oral history interviews (Museum of Childhood)
2001 Whitechapel Gallery Centenary Exhibition - multimedia installation with Alan Dein alongside production of oral history archive on The Whitechapel Library.
1999 Rubies & Rebels: Female Jewish Identity in British Art (Barbican Art Gallery)
1994 Ner Htamid, Katz window, Whitechapel Open
Recent media appearances include BBC Radio London Robert Elms show, Radio 3: Nightwaves, Radio 4: Women’s Hour, Midweek and Thinking Aloud, BBC 2: Newsnight, BBC London News (TV), Countryfile and BBC programme Who Do You think You Are? I also write regularly for newspapers and periodicals including The Independent, Evening Standard and The Guardian. My work has been widely reviewed in the national press. For more information visit www.rachellichtenstein.com