Blakefest goes online with unique celebration of visionary poet

Bognor’s Blakefest 2020 launches online on Saturday, November 28 for William Blake’s 263rd birthday, involving more than a hundred artists.

You can peruse galleries, watch a poetry film, listen to original music and much more, says organiser Rachel Searle.

This year’s material will remain online permanently at http://www.blakefest.co.uk

“You will find myriad wonders inspired by the art and poetry of William Blake. We are a creative community united by visionary differences celebrating the poet’s voice in every human being.

“It became quite apparent that, relatively early on in 2020, in our eighth year of operating, we would not be able to hold a normal annual event this year so we have improvised to meet this challenge.

“Funded by Let’s Create, Arts Council England, we have commissioned and organised several lockdown projects which are housed on the website, along with a large archive containing hundreds of photographs of performances and artwork spanning years from 2014-2019, which will only grow as time progresses. In total over 100 artists and performers have been involved with this year’s BlakeFest.

“The visionary poet William Blake lived in Felpham from 1800-03, the only time he lived outside London, where he wrote, among many other things, the words which would become the lyrics to Jerusalem, England’s unofficial National Anthem. Blake, voted 38th in the BBC’s Greatest Britons poll, was largely unrecognised in his lifetime yet knowledge of his genius and his influence has expanded through generations of musicians, poets and artists and is ingrained in our culture here and internationally.

“BlakeFest came about to celebrate the time Blake lived locally and also in an attempt to help ensure that Blake’s Cottage was preserved for the future. Our goal was to enrich our community, encourage and present the spirit of creativity and provide entertainment through exhibitions and performances.
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A tribute to William Blake under the railway arches

The memory of the poet William Blake can be found, maybe slightly oddly underneath the railway arches in Waterloo

A collection of large mosaics were installed in the railway arches at Centaur Street, which are more usually filled with rubbish and pigeon poo, over a period of 7 years by Southbank Mosaics with Future’s Theatre and Southbank Sinfonia supported by Heritage Lottery.

The location is surprisingly apt though, as William Blake lived nearby from 1890-1800 in the a decade that is often thought to be his most productive years. It’s when he started work on Jerusalem, which is today far better known for the Hymn than the original book — even though in fact, the hymn Jerusalem uses text from one of Blake’s other books. The title of the book and the Hymn are coincidental.

But, 200 years after he moved here, a project was set up to decorate the railway arches in his memory, and now a decade or so later, most of them are still there, rather dusty now, seemingly slightly forgotten, but that’s part of their appeal.

They are not art that shouts or demands attention in a public space. Hidden down inside passages that few choose to walk through, it’s happy to simply be spied out of the corner of eyes of people hurrying through the arches to cleaner places.

You are required to seek out the art down here in its dark lair.

Source: A tribute to William Blake under the railway arches

Book review: Divine Images

JASON WHITTAKER | University of Chicago Press

Although relatively obscure during his lifetime, William Blake has become one of the most popular English artists and writers, through poems such as “The Tyger” and “Jerusalem,” and images including The Ancient of Days. Less well-known is Blake’s radical religious and political temperament and that his visionary art was created to express a personal mythology that sought to recreate an entirely new approach to philosophy and art. This book examines both Blake’s visual and poetic work over his long career, from early engravings and poems to his final illustrations, to Dante and the Book of Job. Divine Images further explores Blake’s immense popular appeal and influence after his death, offering an inspirational look at a pioneering figure.

Source: Divine Images

Albion’s Light: William Blake at the Tate Britain

William Blake critiqued the Enlightenment, industrialization, and the expansion of the British empire. His work shines at the Tate as the shadows of Brexit loom.

With England at a critical juncture in terms of national identity, the time seems right for a retrospective of William Blake’s artwork. The seminal poet of the Romantic Age famously cautioned against the expansion of the British empire, the Enlightenment, and mass industrialization. But his paintings, prints, and drawings had almost as much to say, and now, as Brexit freshly looms, the Tate Britain is displaying more than three hundred such works in a show billed as the largest exhibit of his art in more than a generation.

William Blake runs at the Tate Britain through February 2, 2020, and it doesn’t disappoint. Indeed, it opens with Blake’s iconic Albion Rose, which depicts a pristine white figure posed after Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man. He stands on a rock, arms outstretched, backlit by rays of gold, fiery Continue reading

William Blake show celebrates wife’s creative influence

William Blake Self portrait
William Blake Self portrait

Catherine Blake brought out of shadows in exhibition also featuring artist’s self-portrait

William Blake’s wife, Catherine, is to be brought out of the shadows and celebrated as a lifelong creative influence, in the largest exhibition in a generation devoted to an artist believed by many to be one of Britain’s greatest.

Tate Britain has announced details of its big autumn Blake show, bringing together more than 300 works. It will include the first UK display of a piece thought to be Blake’s only self-portrait, and the recreation of a solo exhibition he staged in 1809 that he hoped would bring him fame and fortune. Sadly, only a handful of people turned up.

There will also be watercolours from a hoard of 19 works lost for 165 years and found in 2001 in a Glasgow secondhand bookshop. Two book dealers bought them for £50 each; the set was later controversially broken up and sold for $7m.

Curators said Catherine, Blake’s lifelong companion, would feature heavily in the exhibition. “It is only in the last 15 years that Catherine as a huge stabilising, supporting and level-headed influence on Blake’s art and his domestic life has really come to the fore,” said Amy Concannon, a co-curator of the show.

On a practical level she made sure the family did not descend into poverty, always keeping a certain amount of money hidden in the house and occasionally serving her husband an empty dinner plate to buck his ideas up.

But she also coloured his prints and was a hugely important creative force in his life, said Martin Myrone, another co-curator.

Source: Tate’s William Blake show celebrates wife’s creative influence | Culture | The Guardian