Glastonbury’s first ever William Blake Festival took place on the 8th, 9th & 10th August 2018. The events were a huge success and welcomed community connectivity, astounding literature, poetry, art and music. We extend our gratitude to everyone who supported this incredible three day event.
We are currently compiling a collection of images and film from the events which can be seen on our Positive Living Group website, as well as on You Tube.
You can watch ‘William Blake & The Glastonbury Gnosis’, the full Thursday evening Festival lecture by renowned Glastonbury author, Paul Weston here:
Paul’s fascinating new book is published through Avalonion Aeon Publications http://avalonianaeon.blogspot.com and can be purchased from Amazon as well as from Glastonbury bookshops.
If you are reading this as a newcomer to British visionary William Blake, below is a brief introduction to the early life of William Blake and on our main home page surrounding this article you will find further links to some of the wonderful footage taken of the festival. More is being added so please return for updates.
If you attended and have any stories or anecdotes of how you experienced any part of the three days or if you took photos or video and would be willing to share any of these with us, we would be delighted to hear from you. We would also love to hear from anyone who would like to be involved in next year’s festival.
Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
William Blake (28th Nov 1757 – 12th Aug 1827) was an English poet, printmaker and artist. He was a Londoner, born at 28 Broad Street (now Broadwick Street in the middle of Soho), third of seven children, two of who died in infancy, and brought up by parents who ran a hosiery shop and who had the insight to recognise and encourage their middle son’s artistic talents rather than to force him into the traditional role of working in the family’s business.
The family were English Dissenters, also known as English Separatists – Protestant Christians who separated from the Church of England in the 16th, 17th & 18th centuries, founding their own churches and educational establishments, disagreeing in the interference in religious matters from the state. Despite this, William was baptised at St. James’ Church, Piccadilly, on 11th Dec 1757.
As a young boy he wandered the streets of London and was able to easily escape to the surrounding countryside. Even at an early age, however, his unique mental powers would prove disquieting. It is widely noted that on one walk he saw a tree filled with angels, “bright angelic wings bespangling every bough like stars.” (Life of William Blake (1863) Alexander Gilchrist). His parents were not amused at such a story and it was only his mother’s pleadings that prevented him from receiving a beating.
Blake attended school only up until the ago of ten, thereby learning only enough to read and write, and was then educated at home by his mother, Catherine. Accepting their son’s headstrong temperament, at around this time his parents also enrolled him into Par’s drawing school in The Strand, a prominent and highly respected establishment in which the young men were taught the arts of drawing and engraving. He read books of his own choosing, making explorations into poetry. His early work displays knowledge of Ben Jonson, Edmund Spenser, and the Psalms.
On 8 October 1779, Blake became a student at the Royal Academy in Old Somerset House, near The Strand. There, he rebelled against what he regarded as the unfinished style of fashionable painters of the time.
Gilchrist writes that Blake “neither wrote nor drew for the many, hardly for work’y-day men at all, rather for children and angels; himself ‘a divine child,’ whose playthings were sun, moon, and stars, the heavens and the earth.”
‘Yet Blake himself believed that his writings were of national importance and that they could be understood by a majority of men. Far from being an isolated mystic, Blake lived and worked in the teeming metropolis of London at a time of great social and political change that profoundly influenced his writing. After the peace established in 1762, the British Empire seemed secure, but the storm wave begun with the American Revolution in 1775 and the French Revolution in 1789 changed forever the way men looked at their relationship to the state and to the established church. Poet, painter, and engraver, Blake worked to bring about a change both in the social order and in the minds of men.’ – Poetry Foundation
‘Largely unrecognised during his lifetime, Blake is now considered a seminal figure in the history of the poetry and visual arts of the Romantic Age. What he called his prophetic were said by 20th-century critic Northrop Frye to form “what is in proportion to its merits the least read body of poetry in the English language”. His visual artistry led 21st-century critic Jonathan Jones to proclaim him “far and away the greatest artist Britain has ever produced”. In 2002, Blake was placed at number 38 in the BBC’s poll of the 100 Greatest Britons. Although he lived in London his entire life, except for three years spent in Felpham, West Sussex. He produced a diverse and symbolically rich oevre, which embraced the imagination as “the body of God” or “human existence itself”.’ (Wikipedia: William Blake).
Main image: William Blake, oil sketch by artist Sara Clay