Submissions invited for second Blake Society Tithe Grant

The Blake Society has announced its Tithe Grant for 2010.

The aim of the grant, launched last year, is to further Blake’s vision. The award for 2011 will be £609.10.

Applications are not restricted to Blake Society members, although applicants will need to provide a letter (250 words) explaining why the funding is needed and how it will be used. The only condition of acceptance is that the recipient is to provide an account of his or her project for publication in a future issue of the Blake Journal.

Applications will be accepted until July 30, 2011, and should be sent via email or post (full contact details are provided at http://www.blakesociety.org/250-projects/blake-society-tithe-grant-application-form/). In the event of a large number of applications, two references may be sought to provide information on the applicant’s perseverance and experience. The recipient will be announced in late September or early October 2011.

William Blake Birthday Party and the Blake Society

As remarked in the news story at the beginning of this week, on Sunday 28 November the Blake Society organised a celebration to mark the anniversary of Blake’s birth at the Clore Gallery, Tate Britain, which also served as an opportunity to note 25 years since it was founded.

The event was a great success, with more than 150 members of the society (as well as general public) in attendance to listen to a number of talks about Blake as well as two films: Caterpillar and Fly, a delightful and extremely charming short movie by Becky Adams of Reelscape Films, and Jerusalem, a biopic directed by Ryan Andrews and written by Philippa Goslett, starring Ray Winstone in the role of Blake. Musical interludes were provided by Fernand Péna, Guy Pearson, and Tally Koren: Fernand’s rock and roll approach to Blake has already featured on this site, and a review of his and Guy’s classical exposition of Blake’s poems will follow in the weeks ahead. Tally, “based in London by way of Israel and Mexico”, ended the day with a rousing performance of her song “Man on the Thames”, based on Blake’s poem “Why should I care for the men of thames”. You can download the song from Soundcloud.

Speakers included Keri Davies and Shirley Dent with some comments on future directions for Blake and the Blake Society, as well as Philippa Simpson from Tate Britain discussing the recent acquisition of Blake’s prints and yours truly indicating some of the exciting possibilities offered by web 2.0 and social media technologies for engaging with an audience of Blake enthusiasts. All speakers, singers and presenters were introduced by Tim Heath, the current chair of the Blake Society whose hard work for the day was deeply appreciated by all who attended.

Founded in 1985 and meeting regularly since 1986, the Blake Society – in its own words – sets out to “honour and celebrate” Blake, and anyone with an interest in the poet and artist should consider joining. It is an extremely open – and also extremely friendly – society, and over the years has brought together some of the most important scholars working in the field of Blake studies to share their findings and celebrated public figures, not least the current chairman, Philip Pullman. More than this, however, it has also celebrated the enthusiasm of many others who may not be academically involved with Blake but who often have a profound – and lifelong – fascination with this most remarkable of men.

The first 25 years of the Society has seen it become a rich source of all things Blakean, and over the next 25 it will surely become even more entrenched as a centre for all those who have a rich passion for Blake’s works. You can become a member of the Blake Society by visiting its web site, http://www.blakesociety.org.

Blake’s Birthday and 25th Anniversary of the Blake Society

Tomorrow is the anniversary of the birth of William Blake and, this year, the Blake Society is 25 years old. In celebration of both these events, a special event is being held at the Clore Gallery of Tate Britain.

The Society was founded in 1985 at St James’s Church, Picadilly to celebrate and honour Blake’s life and work and has been meeting regularly in London since 1986, with many speakers including some of the most eminent scholars working in the field. The Society aims to attract anyone with an interest in Blake and has monthly meetings usually in the City of Westminster Archives Centre in London.

The event at Tate Britain will include discussion between the surviving Chairs of the Society (David Worrall, Keri Davies, Shirley Dent, and Tim Heath), as well as musical interludes provided by Fernand Péna, Guy Pearson, and Tally Koren and two short films: Catterpillar and the Fly by Becky Adams, and Jerusalem, directed by Ryan Andrews and starring Ray Winstone. Philippa Simpson and Jason Whittaker will also provide two short talks, on the newly discovered Blake prints and the future of Blake online.

In conjunction with this event and to mark the 250th anniversary of Blake’s birth, Zoamorphosis will have a week of additional material providing reviews of new books and displays, discussions of where the future of Blake studies lies online, and the launch of a new project which will explore how everyday users interact with the work of this most popular and illuminating of artists and poets. At the end of the week, we’ll also be announcing the winner of the William Blake Jukebox Competiton, so be sure to add your suggestions before the end of the week so that they can be added to the site.

For more information on the Blake Society, visit blakesociety.org.uk.

Anniversary of Blake’s Death and Blake Society Meeting

Today is the anniversary of the death of William Blake, who passed away at the age of 69 in 1827. He and his wife Catherine were living at that time at 3 Fountain Court, London, and though Blake was largely neglected at the time of his death in the previous decade he had begun to make friendships among young artists who would pass on knowledge of his art and poetry. One of those friends, George Richmond, wrote to Samuel Palmer:

My Dr Friend

Lest you should not have heard of the Death of Mr Blake I have written this to inform you – He died on Sunday Night at 6 Oclock in a most glorious manner[.] He said He was going to that Country he had all His life wished to see & expressed Himself Happy hoping for Salvation through Jesus Christ – Just before he died His Countenance became fair – His eyes brighten’d and He burst out in Singing of the things he Saw in Heaven[.] In truth He Died like a Saint as a person who was standing by Him Observed – He is to be Buryed on Friday at 12 in morng[.] (Cited in G. E. Bentley, Blake Records, p.464)

As is traditional, the Blake Society will meet on the first Sunday after the anniversary of Blake’s death at his grave. This year, the meeting will take place at 12 noon, Sunday 15 August at Bunhill Fields, 38 City Road London EC1Y 1AU. The Bunhill celebration, which dates back to the birth of the Society, is open to all and anyone can participate without notice or election (so attend if you want to read a poem, sing or join other Blake enthusiasts for lunch and conversation).

In addition this year Robin Hatton-Gore will talk about the topography of the area and will triangulate Bunhill Fields with the graveyard of the Wesley Chapel and the Quaker Burial Ground. Robin Hatton-Gore was the gardener in charge of Bunhill Fields for several years and is completing a book on the importance of this area to the Dissenting tradition. More details can be found at http://www.blakesociety.org/2010/03/16/bunhill-fields-2/.

Submissions invited for Blake Society Tithe Grant

The Blake Society has announced its inaugural Tithe Grant for 2010.

The aim of the grant, which will become an annual event, is “to support individuals or groups carrying on Blake’s energy in the twenty-first century”. The award for 2010 will be £313.10.

Those eligible include anyone involved in a project that directly involves Blake or is “in the spirit of Blake’s life and art”. As such, it is designed to support arts, social services, research or education, and is very open in terms of the type of projects that will be considered.

The Society is looking for new ways of carrying on Blake’s ideas and work in the 21st century, and application is via a form available on the Society web site: http://www.blakesociety.org/250-projects/blake-society-tithe-grant-application-form/. Applications must be submitted by June 30, 2010.