Thursday 14 September, 1 PM at St Bartholomew the Great, West Smithfield, London EC1A 9DS, free event
In this illustrated talk, Stephen Pritchard will introduce the poetry, prose and art of William Blake and explore his complex relationship with London through his life and work. This free talk is part of the festival of events celebrating the 900th anniversary of the founding of the Priory of St Bartholomew, West Smithfield.
No need to book, just turn up.
William Blake, 1757 to 1827, was a visionary poet, painter, engraver, and musician. He had no formal education but read widely in Greek philosophy and that of his contemporaries, and studied and challenged the psychological and philosophical ideas of the age. He read the Bhagavad Gita, Jacob Boehme, the Jewish Kabbalah, the Swedish philosopher Swedenborg, and he knew the Bible intimately. Apprenticed in his youth to an engraver, Blake later used his engraving skills to invent a new method of printing. By engraving his texts and image outline backwards in ‘mirror-writing’, he was able to combine word and image on the same page. This allowed him to create a highly dynamic artwork, with the resonances and dissonances between image and text generating new and unexpected meanings. With the help of his wife Catherine, who hand-coloured some of the work, he became entirely self-sufficient in the production of his extraordinary, illuminated books. The Blakes’ unique process, in one small room, replaced the necessity for large teams of artisan specialists in two separate workshops. Blake is a champion of the creative imagination, striving to overcome the alienation between people, and between humanity and the natural world. For Blake ‘Nature is Imagination itself’. He strove to show us how to throw off our ‘Mind Forg’d Manacles’: both the bondage of social conditioning and the domination of our rational faculty.
Stephen read English at Oxford and studied William Blake’s visionary writing and artwork for a PhD. He is now Secretary of the Blake Society and has taught Blake at all levels. As a music journalist he interviewed Peter Gabriel, joining with him and four friends as co-founder of the WOMAD Festival. ‘Stephen became a major creative architect of the WOMAD festival as it developed’-Thomas Brooman, WOMAD Artistic Director 1982-2008. Six years in performing arts, (music, dance, theatre), were followed by twenty-eight years of drama teaching; experimenting with a range of practitioners and exploring psychophysical work through pedagogy and performance. Stephen is a Drama Consultant, visiting practitioner and guest Director, running workshops in schools, universities, businesses, and organisations both in the UK and abroad. He has lectured on Blake and Artaud for Jungian groups in Bristol and London. Most recently, he has written a play based on the letters, poems, art and life of William and Catherine Blake, Albion, Awake! which premiered in London in October 2019 and was staged recently in Bloomsbury and at the Cube in Bristol.