William Blake was an all round artist, mastering printmaking, painting and illustration as well as poetry and, like some other literary greats, he had intrinsic links with Chichester. This makes him all the more relevant to our professional copywriter as a muse.
Although William Blake lived and worked in London for most of his life he did spend three years living in a cottage close to Chichester. It was in the garden of his Felpham home that Blake had an altercation with a soldier and the poet was said to have cursed King George III. Blake found himself facing charges of assault and sedition and was trialled in Chichester’s Guildhall in 1804 where he was cleared.
Soon after, Blake left West Sussex behind but clearly did not forget this ordeal as several of his artworks went on to feature the image of an accusing soldier. Some of his most posthumously famous work includes Milton: a poem (later to inspire the song Jerusalem) and The Tiger.
Blake’s trial at the Guildhall in Priory Park, Chichester, inspired local artists to create and display pieces at the historical site, as part of Chichester’s annual Festivities. Always keen to appreciate art and find out more about the lives of historical local figures, especially the literary kind, Chichester Copywriter went along to check out the aptly named Blake’s Heaven.
The exhibition showed a range of individual pieces inspired by Blake’s poems, each displayed in such a way to evoke a true sense of Blake’s artistic influence. Metallic sculptures, water colours and mixed media were juxtaposed with a backdrop of beautiful ancient masonry to create a wholly imaginative resting place dedicated to Blake’s memory that, ironically, could have been where he was sentenced to death if he had been found guilty of his charges all those years ago.