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Monday, 30 April 2007

Jim Woodring, an American cartoonist (two of whose creations are shown here), will visit Sydney at the end of May. He is due to participate in a "collaborative show" at the Opera House Studio. A 30-minute reading by Woodring and "musical interpretations of his work" (?) promises something a little bit different.


What caught my eye, apart from the striking images, was that Woodring is actually a modern-day William Blake.

"From the age of five, Woodring's day-to-day activities have been punctuated by strange visions and hallucinations - experiences that have provided inspiration for his work," writes Paul Bibby in The Sydney Morning Herald.

Blake frequently saw visions, such as the creature that we know so well from his tempera painting The Ghost of a Flea (1819-20). Woodring is thus quite a unique individual. Although I've never heard of him, I may just try to work out how I can attend the performance on 25 and 26 May. That's a Friday and a Saturday, in case you're wondering.

It is difficult not to be a fan of Blake, whose talent for both poetry and visual art is fairly unique. Few people would be totally unaware of some parts of his poetry. His Jerusalem is well known nowadays. It was set to music in 1916 and is still sung as a hymn, notably in Anglican churches.


Blake's fate was for many years to work unacknowledged by the dominant practitioners of his time. At one stage he was working on etchings (his vocation since childhood) for catalogues marketing products manufactured by ceramics-maker Wedgewood. Only in the early nineteenth century, amid a resurgence of Christian evangelism in the British Isles, did Blake find kindred spirits among his countrymen. Or, rather, they found him.

He would go on to become one of the most influential artists of his era.

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