2016 Cottage Watch
THE BLAKE SOCIETY
The Blake Society is one of England’s older societies and has its base in London, Phillip Pullman is the President and Alan Moore, Michael Eavis and Neil Gaiman are patrons. They provide a wide variety of programmed events throughout the year that seek to reflect William Blake’s broad spectrum of interest. While most of their cultural activities have been in London, The Blake Society has taken a great interest in the Felpham Cottage and in 2007 supported Felpham’s 250th anniversary celebrations of Blake.
Earlier this year the Society secured an option to buy the cottage for £520,000 a considerable reduction on the market price of £650,000. This reduction reflected, in part, the owner’s wish for the cottage to be purchased by a group of people that would take Blake back to the nation.
THE BIG BLAKE PROJECT
The Big Blake Project was established in Felpham in 2012 within Greener Bognor Network to linkthe local green spaces using William Blake’s poetry – The Blake Trail was born! A sixteen-page colour brochure was produced in conjunction with design consultancy, Loosemarbles, to support the Trail and the founder of the project was sought by the owner of Blake’s cottage and congratulated. A few months later the cottage came on the market and the owner suggested that the Big Blake Project contact the
Blake Society to become part of a consortium to secure the cottage.
The Big Blake Project then established in 2013 a William Blake Poetry Prize, the quality and diversity of entries was high and came in from around the world. The Big Blake Project has now worked with five of the twelve local schools to produce works of art and mosaics for public spaces. In liaison with Chichester University, it will embark on a literacy programme based around poetry in the two local secondary schools. The poetry of William Blake is on the A level English Literature syllabus and the National Curriculum for year nine.
2015 Cottage Watch
THE COTTAGE. The Cottage is to be a home for the dissenting imagination in England’s Green and Pleasant Land that honours William Blake’s uncompromising pursuit of truth, beauty and freedom
- ROOMS. Some rooms will be fitted as museum rooms, which would also function as work spaces; other rooms will be fitted for accommodation & living, fit for a variety of residents: guests involved in creative projects; artists seeking refuge from persecution (a House of Refuge); and paying visitors on a Landmark Trust-style scheme. The balance of these visitors is yet to be confirmed.
- ACTIVITIES. The Cottage will be open one or two days a week for day visitors; for the rest of the week, the rooms will be at the disposal of individuals and groups invited to work on creative projects (i.e. the Cottage acting as a space for writers’ and artists’ retreat). Each month the Cottage will host public events: conversations of Blakean interest with an artist or scholar, for instance, or exhibitions, or intimate concerts. Ideally those who are currently working in the Cottage would host these events; it would be a chance to display the fruits of their work. Again, the balance of these activities is yet to be confirmed.
- VISITOR CENTRE. Once the Cottage is established and self sufficient, we could turn our attention to the possibility of a separate visitor centre, either on the plot of land near the Cottage, or elsewhere in the local area. This would be a place for creation, whose core values are imagination and dissent. It would facilitate more day visitors, and it would provide a larger, more flexible collaborative space for groups of artists and minds (i.e. invited artists, authors, thinkers, philosophers and scientists) where they could produce work that reaches local galleries, universities and other institutions. It would be a true museum, a home for the muses.
We have discussed many proposals for the Blake Cottage, so it’s helpful to be clear about what Blake Cottage will not be. The Cottage will not be:
- a community centre;
- an educational centre;
- a literary museum, even if there are some museum-fitted rooms.
2014 Cottage Watch
Text to go in here Text to go in here Text to go in here Text to go in here Text to go in here Text to go in here Text to go in here Text to go in here Text to go in here Text to go in here Text to go in here Text to go in here Text to go in here Text to go in here Text to go in here Text to go in here