“In my Blakean Year”: Zoamorphosis round up for 2010

It has been nearly a year since the launch of Zoamorphosis, the Blake 2.0 blog, and with 2011 fast approaching here is a round up of Blakean events and happenings for the past year.

The year began with one of the most significant purchases to have occurred for a long time, when Tate Britain bought a series of eight etchings that had been lost until rediscovered in a train timetable. Later in the year, these etchings were central exhibits in a major display on the Romantics which was reviewed here on Zoamorphosis in October.

2010 was a busy year for the William Blake Archive, which saw publication of a new edition of Milton in February, as well as a selection of Blake’s biblical illustrations for Thomas Butts in March, two new copies of Visions of the Daughters of Albion, and the manuscript of An Island in the Moon in November.

In the first half of the year, new releases that involved Blake-inspired tributes included Jez Butterworth’s new play, Jerusalem, as well as albums by John Goodspeed, Gary Lucas and Dean Bowman. Artists whose work displays Blake’s influence included displays by Chris Ofili and 2009 Turner-Prize-winner Richard Wright, as well as Jaume Plensa, Paul Nash and an exhibition based on C. G. Jung’s Red Book. Perhaps the strangest release in February was Electronic Arts’s game Dante’s Inferno, in which players got the chance to kick all kinds of satanic butts in a Blake-inspired hell.

Patti Smith, pictured above, who played Union Chapel, London in March, attracted a lot of interest throughout the year with showings of her biopic, Dream of Life, and reviews of her autobiography, Just Kids, published in January.

Late spring saw the launch of the first Blake Society Tithe Grant, which made money available for Blake-inspired projects. During the Summer, there were two significant conferences devoted to Blake: a two-day conference on Blake, Gender and Sexuality was held at Oxford in July, while August saw the Blake in Our Time symposium at University of Toronto, with podcasts from this event being hosted on Zoamorphosis. Other shows that continued throughout the summer and into autumn included The Alchemy of Things Unknown at the Khastoo Gallery in Los Angeles and the unveiling of William Daniels’s “William Blake II” as part of the Newspeak: British Art Now exhibition organised by Maurice Saatchi.

The year ended with several more events that drew on Blake’s work, notably two further displays at Tate Britain – Richard Wright’s curated room, The Sleeping Congregation and Blake and Physiognomy. 2010 was also the 25th anniversary of the Blake Society, so the year ended with one of the most enjoyable events for a long time to be held in celebration of the artist and poet’s life and work, a birthday party that was also celebrated at Tate Britain on the anniversary of Blake’s birth.

Blake continues to be one of the most popular and respected of British artists, with this selection of events merely a selection from the year which demonstrate his continuing appeal. With a major exhibition to take place in Moscow in 2011, as well as forthcoming publications and new releases, next year should prove to be just as significant – and, of course, we shall bring you more news on Zoamorphosis as and when it happens, with reviews and articles throughout the year.

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