Who was William Blake?
William Blake (1757 – 1827) was an English painter, print maker, poet, radical and visionary.
He was born and died in London and lived there all his life, apart from a short period (1800-04) when he and his wife, Catherine, moved to Felpham, a village in the southern English county of Sussex.
Blake came from a family of religious dissenters and the Bible was a strong influence on his upbringing, thinking and artistic creations. Educated in school and at home, he developed a skill in engraving and was apprenticed to engraver James Basire from the age of 14 to 21. In 1779, Blake became a student of the Royal Academy.
He met and married Catherine Boucher in 1782. Under Blake, Catherine trained as an engraver and went on to help him print his illustrated works.
The British Library entry on Blake says:
“William Blake is famous today as an imaginative and original poet, painter, engraver and mystic. But his work, especially his poetry, was largely ignored during his own lifetime, and took many years to gain widespread appreciation …
As a boy, he claimed to have seen ‘bright angelic wings bespangling every bough like stars’ in a tree on Peckham Rye, one of the earliest of many visions …
Although always in demand as an artist, Blake’s intensely felt personal mythology, derived from radical ardour and the philosophy of the Swedish mystic Emanuel Swedenborg, led to wild mental highs and lows, and later in life he was sidelined as being close to insanity. On his deathbed, he saw one last glorious vision, and ‘burst out in Singing of the things he Saw in Heaven’.”
You can read more about William and Catherine Blake at Wikipedia.
Who are we?
Finding Blake has been created by James Murray-White with funding raised through Crowdfunder in January 2018. The project is supported through the collaboration of a growing number of artists, writers, researchers and other creative people with an interest in what the legacy of William Blake is and what it can mean for us in these times. The Finding Blake project team is:
James Murray-White is an independent film maker, with work on: art and neuroscience (film maker in residence, Cambridge University / NHS Dementia Research Network); applied anthropology (the Bedouin of the Negev); the lives of poets (John Clare; film-poetry with George Szirtes to be exhibited at the Venice Biennale 2019); art and environmental change (associate artist at GroundWork Gallery in King’s Lynn).
James is the creative lead on Finding Blake. His work is on Vimeo.
Lida Kindersley MBE is one of the world’s most respected letter cutters. She and others from the workshop she established with husband David Kindersley, have designed alphabets and carved letters that exist all over the world. We’ve used their Kindersley Street font in the Finding Blake logo.
Lida’s work cutting the new gravestone for William Blake is at the heart of Finding Blake. Lida’s website is kindersleyworkshop.co.uk.
Jonnie Howard is a film professional who, as JHFilm, makes corporate & creative films for a range of clients. Jonnie also makes dark sci-fi films to keep himself sane!
Jonnie is our master camera and editor, supervising the Finding Blake film and bringing a sure touch and great eye to the production. His website is jhfilm.co.uk.
Mark Goldthorpe is an independent researcher and facilitator. He explores humanities-based approaches to climate change, runs conferences and workshops, and builds collaboration and knowledge exchange networks. Mark created ClimateCultures as a free online platform for artists, curators and researchers to explore creative responses to environmental and climate change.
Mark is Finding Blake’s website curator. His website is markgoldthorpe.net.
Andrea Carr is a scenographer, performance maker and artist interested in the intersection between disciplines. She co-founded Terabac Ensemble to work on a new play about insects, cabaret and climate change; and Ecostage Pledge, a global initiative to place ecological thinking at the heart of the performing arts.
For Finding Blake, Andrea will direct an ambitious series of staged recreations of some of William Blake’s paintings. Her website is andreacarr.co.uk.
Finding Blake draws on a growing number of contributing authors, who will feature on this website or are being interviewed for the film. Check this space for the growing roll call of writers, scholars, artists, thinkers, performers and more!
Who is Roger Arias? First we could say that he is a musician, a singer, a songwriter and an independent producer from Galicia, but, above all, he is a lover of the nature and the sea, a researcher of the weaknesses of the heart, a portrayer of the society we live in, a passionate reader, an inveterate cinephile, an intrepid traveler, a unique bohemian… activities that have had a strong influence on his music and art through all his albums, videoclips, concerts, etc.
Clare Crossman – who sadly died in 2021 – was a poet and writer. Based in Cambridge, she also lived in Cumbria for many years. In recent years, Clare became very interested in writing about the natural world in Cambridgeshire, with her interest in climate change, involvement in conserving a small woodland and a project about the River Mel, a local chalk stream. You can find her work at clarecrossman.net. and the Waterlight Project.
Adriana Díaz Enciso is an author of poetry and fiction, as well as a translator. She was born in Mexico, and has been living in London since 1999. Work she has written on William Blake can be found at diazenciso.wordpress.com.
Kevin Fischer is the author of the book Converse in the Spirit: William Blake, Jacob Boehme & the Creative Spirit (Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2004). He is working on a novel about a visionary artist, which takes as its theme spiritual exile and homecoming.
James Fox is a philosopher, former Open University researcher and co-author of A Historical Dictionary of Leibniz’s Philosophy. He is now mostly interested in mystical texts, especially pantheistic nature-based doctrines and practices, which he sees as key to transforming our conception of ourselves in relation to the world, to a spiritual experience of total at-homeness in the natural environment and a reverence and duty of care towards that environment. Prior to pursuing philosophy, he held a position in climate research at the UK Meteorological Office.
Naomi Foyle is a novelist and poet – author of ten poetry pamphlets and three full collections. Originally trained in theatre, she has collaborated with artists, musicians and filmmakers on projects including ASTRA, a multimedia theatre adaptation of her eco-science fiction quartet The Gaia Chronicles. Naomi is a Reader in Critical Imaginative Writing at Chichester University and Deputy Director of Waterloo Press. She also works as a freelance editor and a professional Tarot card reader. Discover more at www.naomifoyle.com.
Robert Campbell Henderson is involved in printmaking and photography, just for the fun of it. Aged fifty he did an MA Photography, followed by a burst of exhibitions and setting up an art gallery in Norwich. He retired to the South of France, taught himself printmaking and set up his own darkroom and print studio. Until recently, his interest in Blake was limited but all that changed when he stumbled upon and saved from a scrapyard a set of etched copper plates by French artist Serge Arnoux, based on Blake’s The Proverbs of Hell. Discover more at www.photokennel.com.
Salli Hipkiss is a poet, writer, artist, songwriter, and singer who for fifteen years has worked freelance as a creative practitioner and teacher/advocate of arts and sustainability, recently alongside being a full-time home-schooling Mum. She is passionate about human creativity and individual flourishing, and about environmental sustainability and regeneration, and is curious about how the two areas can be symbiotic, leading to a holistic vision of wellbeing. You can discover more at www.sallihipkiss.com.
Marion Leeper is a storyteller, writer and educator. She grew up in a family of actors, raconteurs, tellers of tall tales and downright liars. She has been listening to and telling stories (true and less true) for longer than she can remember. She tells stories for children of all ages, specialises in multi-sensory storytelling for the very young and for people with learning difficulties, and has toured her adult shows around the country and internationally. You can find out more at marionleeperstoryteller.co.uk.
Niall McDevitt – who sadly died in 2022 – was the author of three critically acclaimed collections of poetry, b/w (Waterloo Press, 2010), Porterloo (International Times, 2013) and Firing Slits: Jerusalem Colportage (New River Press, 2016). He was a walking artist who specialised in the revolutionary poets of London, particularly Blake, Rimbaud, Shakespeare and Yeats. He blogged at poetopography.wordpress.com.
Helen Moore is a British ecopoet, socially engaged artist, writer, Nature educator and facilitator of outdoor wellbeing programmes. She has published three ecopoetry collections, Hedge Fund, And Other Living Margins (Shearsman Books, 2012), ECOZOA (Permanent Publications, 2015), and The Mother Country (Awen Publications, 2019). She offers an online mentoring programme, Wild Ways to Writing, and works with students internationally. www.helenmoorepoet.com
Eric Nicholson is now retired and lives in Gateshead, UK. He worked as an art teacher and also worked in other fields of education. He has followed the Soto Zen Buddhist practice for over thirty years. He enjoys countryside conservation, visiting art galleries and fell walking. Eric has published articles and poetry, mainly online, and he blogs at www.erikleo.wordpress.com.
Linda Richardson is an artist. Her work engages the imagination and intuition, offering a creative space where the viewer can connect inner and outer nature. Linda wants to awaken the senses to the beauty and wonder of the world in which we live, to activate attention to the mystery of the human experience. Her website is lindarichardson.net.
Tamsin Rosewell is a bookseller at Kenilworth Books in Warwickshire. She has been a judge on reading panels for BookTrust, an advisor on Pathways into Illustration, which brings people from a more diverse range of backgrounds into mainstream publishing, judges the Stratford Salariya Book Prize and lectures regularly to publishing and creative writing students. Two of her radio series for Resonance FM feature Blake significantly: The Poet and the Prophet explores Blake’s life and work, and The Idea of The End, a History of the Idea of the Apocalypse. More of her artwork can be found on her Instagram page @hobs_lantern
Rachel Searle lives in Bognor Regis and is passionate about seeing it regenerated in the truest sense of the word. “Though not an artist I owe much of my energy and inspiration to the arts and love living where William Blake was inspired to write the nation’s favourite anthem, Jerusalem. The twin passions of Blake and Bognor dove-tailed into me creating the Big Blake Project: an umbrella that covers a number of mini-projects at different levels. The over-riding aim is reveal more of Blake’s Beulah in Felpham and Bognor Regis.”
Mick Stannard and his daughter Kate have been recording music together for about a year. Mick has been playing for longer than he cares to remember and has many influences ranging from The Velvet Underground to Vaughan Williams. He has recorded ten solo albums and three with Kate, Visions of William Blake being one. Kate Stannard has a degree in photography and is currently working for a cancer charity in London. She also designed the cover art for all the albums.
Gareth Sturdy is a teacher of physics, mathematics and English, who has also spent time as a national newspaper journalist and public relations practitioner. An organiser of the Academy of Ideas Education Forum, he regularly runs debates on education and current affairs. He is a trustee of the Blake Society, where he has a special interest in bringing the poet’s work into schools, and was part of the team responsible for laying the new monumental stone at Blake’s grave. He can be found on Twitter @stickyphysics.
Joseph Andrew Thompson is a composer, musician, writer, and the creative mind behind the duo Astralingua. With a background in classical music and a keen interest in the spaces between this world and the next, he draws inspiration from classic literature, folklore, philosophy, astronomy, and the musics of old. Wandering the Land of Nod, he is ever at work on the next song. Visit www.astralingua.com.
Yana Trevail is a painter, printmaker and performer preoccupied with the interconnectedness of all things and, through the exploration of internal and external topographical themes, developing idiosyncratic expressions of energy. Her work has been selected for numerous exhibitions and is in many private collections in the UK and internationally. She lives and works on Dartmoor. Visit www.yanatrevail.co.uk.
Jason Whittaker is Head of the School of English and Journalism at the University of Lincoln. He has written extensively on William Blake over a period of thirty years, and regularly blogs about the reception of the engraver and poet at zoamorphosis.com. He is also managing editor of VALA, The Journal of the Blake Society and co-organiser of Global Blake with Sibylle Erle.
Pete Yeo has long seen heavens in wildflowers, these days working with plants as portals for human nature connection. Lately, he’s felt a call to write more expansively on the need for a more holistic and reverential relationship with the plant realm (and hence all Life). At times the muse has felt rather Blakean. Visit www.futureflora.co.uk and his similarly-named Facebook page for weekly musings.