Cloud & Vision 2005

The Floating Press (detail) Polly Gould, 2005


The Sick Rose (detail) David Burrows, 2005

Cloud & Vision was an exploration of William Blake’s ten years in Lambeth. Eight artists and four writers were commissioned to develop new works in response to Blake’s images and texts produced between 1790 and 1800.

William and Catherine Blake lived at number 13 Hercules Buildings, Lambeth, during the most creative and productive period of Blake’s life. Moving from smaller premises in Soho in 1790, it was here that Blake produced Songs of Experience, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, Visions of the Daughters of Albion, America a Prophecy and The French Revolution.

Each of the participating artists, including David Burrows, Brian Catling, Phil Coy, Polly Gould, Andy Harper, Manuela Ribadeneira, Annie Whiles and Sarah Woodfine approached Blake through their own practice and interests: David Burrows’ comic and Sarah Woodfine’s three dimensional drawing investigated Blake as an iconic individual – asking what Blake would make of contemporary Lambeth or considering his garden as a metaphor for personal freedom. Annie Whiles’ work questioned whether she, as a 21st century artist aware of the problematic legacy of postmodernism, could move beyond self-referential irony toward an earnest and direct interaction with her audience. Polly Gould’s work with the Blake Society focused on the physical and intellectual realities of a printing press – part installation, part performance, this work recalled accusations made against Blake for the production and distribution of ‘seditious’ texts. Manuela Ribadeneira’s interventions outside the Museum space explored Blake’s use of the ampersand as a unifying force for contraries, while Phil Coy’s sculpture invited viewers to ‘perform’ Blake’s ‘Jerusalem’ through the act of reading from an auto-cue. Andy Harper’s paintings considered Blake’s approach to nature and politics, forensically searching for evidence of Blake’s ‘spirit’. Brian Catling merged performance and poetry through an ‘illustrated’ poetry reading. Catling was accompanied by performances from Phil Coy, Polly Gould and Manuela Ribadeneira.

A catalogue was created to accompany the exhibition, performances and events of Cloud & Vision, featuring new writing from Tracy Chevalier, novelist, and Tim Heath, Chairman of the Blake Society, whose text explores the divine in the digital age. Jon Newman, Lambeth Archives, developed a narrative text examining the physical location of Blake’s home and the artist’s intellectual distance from his neighbours. Finally, Michael Phillips, author of ‘Blake’s Songs’, presents an edited form of his essay ‘William Blake in Lambeth’.

Cloud & Vision was curated by Danielle Arnaud, Jordan Kaplan and Philip Norman and was supported by Arts Council England, Lambeth Arts, St George and The Museum of Garden History.