Exhibition at the Flat Time House in Peckham

One of Britain’s most radical and successful artists will have a series of his works presented in the former home of another radical British artist.

William Blake, the 18th century romance poet and painter, will have two series of works presented at the Flat Time House in Peckham, the home of radical conceptual artist John Latham before he died in 2006.

This exhibition gives an opportunity to view Blake’s work in the domestic environment of Latham’s home – the ‘living sculpture’ of Flat Time House and embodiment of Latham’s world view.

The show is also an opportunity to bring Blake back to Peckham, at a site close to the Rye where, as a young boy, he had his vision of a tree filled with angels, bright angelic wings bespangling every bough like stars.

Title page of The Bard illustrated by William Blake

The two series of works by Blake, from a private collection, lent for this exhibition by The Sir Denis Mahon Foundation, are prints taken from poems Blake illustrated by Thomas Gray, The Bard and The Fatal Sisters.

They were commissioned in 1797 by Blake’s friend, the sculptor John Flaxman and produced over the following year.

Blake mounted Gray’s poems to windows cut into large sheets of paper, then drawing and colouring his designs to surround the text.

Throughout the series Blake emphasises the importance of imagination at work in the world through inspired acts of reading, writing, and performing music.

Alongside these works, poets, writers and artists using language, have been commissioned to reflect on the contemporary relevance of Blake and Latham’s work.

Blake and Latham each created complex compositions which examined the nature and structure of the universe from within the confines of daily life.

An extensive events programme of recitals, guided walks and performances will feature contributions from poets, writers and artists including Keith Jarrett, Chris McCabe, Niall McDevitt, Robert Montgomery, Karen Sandhu, Iain Sinclair and Tamar Yoseloff.

The exhibition’s co-curator, poet Chris McCabe, said: “Ever since William Blake arrived in Peckham and found an angel in a tree, the poets have arrived, fleet-footed, looking for signs.

“Having spent years tracking Blake’s movements through London I am delighted to be working with Flat Time House on bringing Blake’s work to Peckham.

“The Bard shows Blake the illustrator at his best, conjuring the true Bardic voices which rise to speak truth to power.

“Taking a cue from this, I have invited six of the UK’s most dynamic poets to write new work in response to Blake and in response to that other visionary and creator of cosmologies, John Latham.

“We’re going to fill Flat Time House with poetry, with words on the walls, performances across a series of events and through a walking tour which invites the public to join in the search for Blake’s Peckham.

“This is going to be a mass celebration of two men (Blake and Latham) who felt they must create a system or be enslaved by another man’s’ (Jerusalem).”

The exhibition at Flat Time House will run from January 30 – March 8.

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