Golgonooza in Felpham

Blakes' cottage
The Blakes’ cottage at Felpham, image from The Blake Society

This weekend, the Golgonooza Festival will be taking place in Felpham, running from 18-20 September. The aim of the festival is to celebrate our cultural heritage, old and new, in the village where Blake lived from 1800-1803. It was during this time that he began work on his epic poem, Milton, and he described the village as a place where “Heaven opens here on all sides her golden gates”.

The Festival is part of the Big Blake Project, an umbrella project that brings together the Big Blake trail, Big Blake arts, Blake’s Cottage and the Golgonooza Festival itself. Set up by Rachel Searle, the project celebrates Blake’s life and work, regenerating culture and arts with a particular focus on public spaces around Felpham and Bognor Regis.

Among those participating in the Festival are the punk poet Attila the Stockbroker, the children’s writer K.M. Lockwood, and the storyteller Abbie Palanche. You can find out more details about the event at http://thebigblakeproject.org.uk/golgoonoza/.

As part of its efforts to emphasise Blake’s connections to the village, the Big Blake Project is also involved with the Blake Society in a plan to raise £520,000 via crowdfunding to purchase the cottage where Blake lived with his wife Catherine. The cottage came onto the market last year, the first time it has been available since 1928.

The Blake Society has until October 31st to raise the money needed and, if successful, will place the cottage in a charitable trust to be held in perpetuity for the benefit of the nation. The campaign is endorsed by Sir Andrew Motion, Philip Pullman, Stephen Fry, Tracy Chevalier, Russell Brand, Alan Moore, Cosmo Sheldrake and Jeremy Reed. You can find more details, as well as how to donate, at http://www.blakesociety.org/blakecottage/.

Apple, Blake and Songs of Innocence

U2's Songs of Innocence at the iPhone 6 launch. Image from 9to5Mac
U2’s Songs of Innocence at the iPhone 6 launch. Image from 9to5Mac

It’s not often that a writer on Blake gets an excuse to link to the biggest technology event of the year. In case you haven’t heard, Apple yesterday announced the launch of the new iPhone 6 (“bigger than bigger” according to their site) and Apple Watch. And the connection to William Blake, who died a couple of centuries before he could get his hands on either device? The release of U2’s new album, Songs of Innocence, free to iTunes users.

The link to Blake is not entirely out of the blue. Steve Jobs was once described as having an “inexhaustible interest” in the works of Blake, while U2 have more than a passing interest in the Romantic poet: the lyrics of “Beautiful Ghost” from the album are Blake’s “Introduction” to Songs of Experience. Obviously that link has remained engrained somewhere, leading to the latest album being made available exclusively via Apple this week.

Not everyone has been impressed by U2’s invocation of Blake, however (and John Doran’s opinion piece at http://thequietus.com/articles/16217-bono-u2-songs-of-experience is particularly worth reading).

As the equivalent of a graphic designer of his day, it’s pretty clear to me that Blake would have been a Mac user today (for all that I secretly desire him to have been a Linux hacker) – at least when he could have afforded any kind of computer. I’ll follow with a review on the U2 album shortly, but in the meantime you can listen to it at https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/songs-of-innocence/id915794155.