Blake Society Trustees

December 17, 2023

The Annual General Meeting (AGM) of The Blake Society will be held on Zoom on 17 January 2024 at 7.30 PM (UK time).

The Annual General Meeting is an opportunity for us to update members and followers about the key events and work of the year. We will also report on accounts and the new ideas and campaigns that we will be taking forward into 2024. This is the meeting at which the Trustees of The Blake Society are formally appointed to serve for the year, so we thought it might be a good time to explain what we do and to reintroduce the current Trustees.

We’re a dedicated group of Trustees, who work together well and effectively; between us we have a wide range of knowledge, experience and interests and can pool all that expertise for the benefit of the Society. As Trustees, we have a legal duty to ensure that The Blake Society is in the best possible position to further its aims and objectives. We have started the process of reviewing and revising the procedure of appointing Trustees, to ensure that it remains in accordance with the Charity Commission’s guidelines and legal requirements. 

You can read the full detail of our constitution here.

Want to know more?
If you’re interested in becoming a Trustee, now or as a possibility for the future, but would like to know more about what that involves or discuss if it is for you, you’re welcome to get in touch and we’ll have a chat and tell you what we all get up to. However, there are lots of ways to help out at The Blake Society and be involved in a way that works for you, being a Trustee is only one way! So, if you feel you have something to offer, from fundraising help to design or event organisation for example, we’d love to hear from you.

Meet the current Trustees

Sibylle Erle (Chair)

Little fly,
Thy summer’s play
My thoughtless hand
Has brushed away.

 

Am not I
A fly like thee?
Or art not thou
A man like me?

 

For I dance
And drink and sing,
Till some blind hand
Shall brush my wing.

Favourite Blake quotation: Stanzas 1-3 from ‘The Fly’, Songs of Experience (1794)

Favourite Blake image: Plate showing the birth of Enitharmon, The First Book of Urizen, Copy A (1794)

When I joined the Executive Committee (2019), I took the lead on re-launching the journal of the Blake Society. Four years on, I am collaborating with John Riordan and Jason Whittaker on what has become a very successful venture. I love working with academics, authors, artists and all creative minds! This year, and in my role as Chairperson, I have had the privilege to get to know a wonderful, very talented team. I also witnessed a process of transformation that attempts to articulate a healthy balance between academic and creative responses to Blake. I am keen to continue in my role and grow the emerging momentum for Blake200, the bicentenary of Blake’s death (2027).

Sibylle Erle (Chair), a philologist by training, studied in Marburg (Germany), Norwich (UK) and St. Petersburg (Russia). As an academic, she has published on Blake’s reception and Anglo-German relations in British Romanticism; as an educator, she seeks out challenging topics, such as death and monsters. Sibylle believes in Blake’s relevance and significance for other cultures.

Stephen Pritchard (Secretary)

Seek Love in the Pity of others Woe

In the gentle relief of anothers care

In the darkness of night & the winters snow

In the naked & outcast Seek Love there

Favourite Blake quotation: ‘William Bond’ from the Pickering Manuscript (c. 1807)

Favourite Blake image: Illustrations of the Book of Job, Plate 14 (1823-6)

I thoroughly enjoy the challenges of being Secretary of the Blake Society and would like to continue in that role. I welcome the opportunity to engage with our growing membership through direct contact, both in-person and virtually. Programming and hosting events enable me to meet Members from all over the world, and to celebrate the genius of William and Catherine Blake through an increasing knowledge of all aspects of their work. Writing articles for Vala has been a great joy for me. Equally rewarding is the opportunity to work with kind, talented colleagues and to learn from the wealth of academic, artistic and personal responses to the Blake canon.

Stephen Pritchard is Secretary of the Blake Society. He studied Blake at Exeter College, Oxford, tutoring undergraduates and running classes for undergraduates and graduates. Stephen co-founded the WOMAD Festival in 1982 with Peter Gabriel. He taught Drama for many years and has made eight educational Drama films. Stephen has created and directed a new multimedia play, Albion, Awake! about William and Catherine’s Blake’s  life and work.

Camila Oliveira Querino

He who would do good to another, must do it in Minute Particulars

General Good is the plea of the scoundrel hypocrite & flatterer:

For Art & Science cannot exist but in minutely organized Particulars

Favourite Blake quotation: Jerusalem The Emanation of the Giant Albion, plate 55, lines 61-64 (1804-c. 1820)

Favourite Blake image: ‘Satan in his Original Glory: “Thou wast Perfect till Iniquity was Found in Thee”’ (c. 1805)

I have been trustee of the Blake Society for two years, and little did I know that the bewildered Brazilian student who joined a Blake Society meeting back in 2012 in London would end up in the Trust’s committee. Being a trustee has enabled me to organise and host events music-related, which highlights the intrinsic musical dimension of Blake’s work, and bring attention to the astounding influence and reception of his work among musicians and composers. I wish to remain as a trustee to continue promoting music performances and fruitful dialogues on his impact in today’s culture, as well as to collaborate in the series of events and celebrations related to the bicentenary of Blake’s death (2027).

Camila Oliveira (Trustee) is a Researcher at the University of Lisbon, Trustee of the Blake Society and Blake Cottage Trust. She holds a PhD in English Literature from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro/ Kings College London (2021). She specialized in interdisciplinary and multimedia studies articulating Music and Literature and is currently preparing a book on the reception of William Blake in popular music. She translated Jerusalem the Emanation of the Giant of Albion into Portuguese, to be published in 2024 (Nova Alexandria). She is convinced that Blake sang his poems.

John Riordan

I wander thro’ each charter’d street,

Near where the charter’d Thames does flow.

And mark in every face I meet

Marks of weakness, marks of woe.

 

In every cry of every Man,

In every Infants cry of fear,

In every voice: in every ban,

The mind-forg’d manacles I hear

Favourite Blake quotation (today): Stanzas 1-2 from ‘London’, Songs of Experience (1794)

Favourite Blake image (today): ‘Ode on the Death of a Favourite Cat’ from The Poems of Thomas Gray (c. 1797)
– Just look at the ‘cat’, and those ‘fish’! It’s like something from Doctor Who!

One of the things that fascinates me about Blake is that he is neither a ‘words’ or a ‘pictures’ guy. He insists in combining the two in weird and wonderful ways, or perhaps he simply demonstrates the artificiality of the divide between the two. As someone raised on a diet of comic books his approach makes perfect sense to me. I also love the fact that this most radical and spiritual of artists was not a privileged, laudanum-addled fop but a working craftsman, attempting to make an honest living while relentlessly pursuing his vision. As I never tire of saying, Blake is for me the patron saint of freelance creatives.

I’ve been a trustee of the Blake Society since 2020. Since then I’ve been particularly involved in building us a new, snazzy website, and promoting our activities on social media. I’ve served as Art Director for our journal, VALA, ensuring that each issue is stuffed with contemporary art and illustration that speaks to Blake’s own rich visuals. I’ve also organised a few of our online events, in particular interviews with authors John Higgs and Daisy Hay, and the lockdown zoom quiz, Blakety Blake. I’d like to carry on doing these sorts of things.

John is an illustrator and comic artist. He created the comic strip ‘William Blake, Taxi Driver’ for Time Out magazine and is working on a graphic novel about William Blake with the working title of LOS, a project that he may well still be pursuing in Eternity.

Annise Rogers (Membership Secretary)

Thou little diminutive portion that darst be a counterpart

Thy passivity thy laws of obedience & insincerity

Are my abhorrence. Wherefore hast thou taken that fair form

Whence is this power given to thee!

Favourite Blake quotation: Vala or The Four Zoas, ‘Night the Third’, page 43, lines 9-12 (c. 1797-1807)
– All of Blake’s characters have fantastic speeches, but in these words from The Four Zoas comes one of the best insults that I have ever heard. In abusing the ‘little diminutive portion’, that is his emanation Ahania, Urizen is ultimately insulting himself for ‘this power’ was given to her through him! This must be the pinnacle of Urizenic reason, and it makes me laugh every time I read it. 

Favourite Blake image: ‘Hecate’ (sometimes known as ‘The Night of Enitharmon’s Joy’) (c. 1795)
– I primarily came to Blake through his poetry, but this picture has always fascinated me with its dark imagery and gothic themes. It took me a long time to realise that what made this picture stand out for me was that it contained a dark-haired female (presumably Hecate), something that is rare in Blake’s pictures.

I have been a trustee for the Blake Society for just under a year, and since June 2023 I have been the Membership Secretary. I am a Postgraduate Researcher but my fascination with Blake is not only bound to my research. Like many others I first came to Blake through the ‘famous’ poems ‘The Tyger’, ‘London’ and the hymn ‘And did those feet…?’, but his art and his mythological world-building has deeply changed how I not only view him as a poet, but also as a historical figure and person. I would help promote a Blake that is accessible to everyone, a brilliant artist and poet, but one with human flaws. A Blake who everyone can engage with, a Blake who is funny, and a Blake who people are not afraid to say that they do not understand, because I certainly don’t.

Annise Rogers (she/her) is a Postgraduate Researcher writer focusing on William Blake’s Vala or The Four Zoas and poetical forms. She has written for VALA and has a chapter on the connections between the visual art of Tolkien and Blake in the upcoming book The Romantic Spirit in the Works of J.R.R. Tolkien. She is communications director for Global Blake, an international network of scholars focusing on the art and poetry of William Blake. She thinks that The Four Zoas is seriously under-read.

Tamsin Rosewell

What is now proved, was once only imagin’d.

Favourite Blake quotation, from The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, plate 8, line 33 (1790)
– Chosen for its encapsulation of the complex relationship between progressive scientific knowledge and practice, and the power of the human imagination. Never underestimate or belittle the imagination.

Favourite Blake image: The Spiritual Form of Pitt Guiding Behemoth (c. 1805)
– I’m fascinated by this piece as an artist, and in particular as a colourist who makes their own pigment. The way Blake has used the gold in this in unconventional, and hard to replicate – a combination of underpainting, and using the gold as a combined pigment.

I’ve been a Trustee for a year. As an artist, illustrator and bookseller, I was led to Blake first by his images, long before I found his words. I do not claim to be a Blake scholar of any kind; I am quite comfortable to say that there’s much about Blake I do not understand, but I still find that my imagination responds to it. I’m fascinated by Catherine and would like very much to continue the work I’ve started with The Blake Society to bring her contribution more into public consciousness.

Tamsin Rosewell was a bookseller for 17 years, but recently made the leap to work full-time as an illustrator. She is a regular book industry panel speaker, as well as book prize judge. Tamsin has also worked as a broadcaster, a speech writer, and for Spitting Image.

Jason Whittaker (Treasurer)

And all must love the human form,

In heathen, Turk, or Jew;

Where Mercy, Love, and Pity dwell

There God is dwelling too.

Favourite Blake quotation: Stanza 5 from ‘The Divine Image’, Songs of Innocence (1789)

Favourite Blake image: Jerusalem The Emanation of the Giant Albion, plate 25, Copy E (c. 1821)

I have had a minor obsession with William Blake since he taught me to see the world anew and saved me from a deadly pact I once made with Old Nobodaddy. At the age of 19 I discovered what it was to be of the Devil’s Party (while sometimes knowing it), and I have been carrying around inside me the Giant Albion for many decades, who in recent years has begun – fitfully! painfully! – to wake from his slumber.

Jason Whittaker is Treasurer of the Blake Society and Managing Editor of VALA. He is an academic and Professor at the University of Lincoln, and previously has been a magazine editor and writer. He is the author and editor of nineteen books, many of which deal with the life, work and reception of William Blake. His most recent titles include Divine Images: The Life and Work of William Blake (Reaktion Books, 2021) and Jerusalem: Blake, Parry and the Fight for Englishness (OUP, 2022).

Plate showing the birth of Enitharmon, The First Book of Urizen, Copy A (1794)

Illustrations of the Book of Job, Plate 14 (1823-6)

‘Satan in his Original Glory: “Thou wast Perfect till Iniquity was Found in Thee”’ (c. 1805)

‘Ode on the Death of a Favourite Cat’ from The Poems of Thomas Gray, (c. 1797)

‘Hecate’ (‘The Night of Enitharmon’s Joy’) (c. 1795)

The Spiritual Form of Pitt Guiding Behemoth (c. 1805)

Jerusalem The Emanation of the Giant Albion, plate 25, Copy E (c. 1821)