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Humanities Field Trip: William Blake exhibition in Oxford
Some of the English Literature Society on a day trip to Oxford, February 2015. Photo: H Weeks
In February some
Humanities students and staff made a day trip to Oxford to see the acclaimed William
Blake exhibition at the Ashmolean Museum. William
Blake: Apprentice and Master traced Blake’s life through his developing
artistic vision, and focused in particular upon his remarkable techniques in
print and image. Blake ran wild as a
young boy, drawing and copying when he should have been at school; but his
education, learned in the streets, churches and print-shops of London, could
not have been better in forming his creativity. The exhibits included variations
on plates from Songs of Innocence and
Experience and a complete series of Europe:
A Prophecy, as well as a recreation of Blake’s workshop at Hercules
Buildings, Lambeth (demolished in 1912). Blake’s use of relief etching, whereby
the artist painted directly onto the copper plates, adding the text in mirror
writing, revealed the artist’s mastery across media; and it demonstrated how
Blake pushed the boundaries of conventional technique to breaking point. Blake’s work (and working practices) manifests
what Los states in The Book of Urizen:
‘I must create a system or be enslav’d by another man’s’.
It was the first visit to Oxford for one or two students,
and there was much to explore, but one could spend the day absorbing the city’s
atmosphere, looking around the Bodleian and wandering among the colleges. Bethany Norris, second-year English
Literature student, took some great photos (and there are more on our Flickr
Hopkins, from ‘Duns Scotus’s Oxford’
We all agreed on three things: that Blake is a genius; that
Oxford is beautiful; and that we want to go on more field trips. Thanks to all
who joined us and made the visit such a success. More trips are planned for
April, and everyone is welcome.