So, December and back in winter UK. Some efforts to get used to a new climate!!
At work too. The university…..
I get to see the new William Blake exhibition at the Tate Britain; the first for twenty years or more.
This is probably the third major exhibition of his that I have seen and each one has been very different from the last. The first was just lots of pieces on show; the second offered a number of historical narratives – as was the norm in museum approach at the time. I was getting ready not to like this one. However, I was mistaken: it was a fine show. The pieces were not too crowded – either in terms of spaces between them or the narratives they offered.
Amused to see this notice at the entrance to the exhibition:
Good to see some actual writing in Blake’s own hand. Also, a very nice photo of the house in Broad Street, London where he was born:
This reminded me that he was actually born into quite a comfortable family: his parents kept a haberdasher/ hardware shop. Quite something in 1757!!! There is always controversy as to how well off Blake was. It is true that aside from his original works – which he sold very little – he did have a number of good commissions for engraving – which was his profession. That being said, expenses were high – all that copper plating for his books ( Jerusalem is 100 plates!). Apart from his three years in Felpham, he lived most of his life with his wife in two rooms! So, he could not be that rich. When he died, most of the engraved copper plates were sold off to support his widow! Only one fragment remains.
Blake was/ is a major influence on me since my early days. I wrote various pieces around him here:
The exhibition included the famous Sea of Time and Space from Arlington Court, Devon.
This picture was only discovered later in the C20 when it was found covered in dust on top of a wardrobe. Happily, the dust had protected it from the light, which faded many of his watercolours. This picture is seminal piece from him and sets out his view of life/ death, souls, and the material/ spiritual worlds. For him, water signifies materialism; so we see people drowning in it, and indeed being saved from it when the ‘fabric’ of existence is severed. I wrote a piece on the Beach Boys where I pursued ‘water’, the sea, as a metaphor for life – connecting it with Heideggerian Dasein. A lot of fun. It is here:
Christmas and some nice flowers sent to me from a dear friend:
Also, a nice card from Musica en Moviemiento together with a recording of a piece we did on the recent course:
The Forest is very wintry:
Some nice encouraging New Year cards/ video going the rounds:
This month I have been reading a new biography of Hermann Hesse, a writer I often come back to at difficult times. He seems to understand the tension between the inner and outer worlds and what to make of it.
Some nice soundscape sounds from Daniel Lanois as my CD of the month: