Thursday, 26 February 2009 see a world in a grain of sand.

Yesterday I managed to leave work behind for two glorious hours and visited the William Blake exhibition at Tate Liverpool.

Tate Liverpool is one of the largest galleries of modern and contemporary art outside London and is housed in a beautifully converted Victorian warehouse in the historic Albert Dock. Part of a family of galleries that include Tate Britain and Tate Modern in London and Tate St Ives in Cornwall, Tate Liverpool is the home of the National Collection of Modern Art in the north.

The gallery has four floors displaying work selected from the Tate Collection and special exhibitions which bring together artwork loaned from around the world. The displays and exhibitions show modern and contemporary art from 1900 to the present day which includes photography, video, performance and installation as well as painting and sculpture.

William Blake (1757-1827), was a renowned painter, printmaker, poet and mystical philosopher. Largely ignored in his lifetime, today he is regarded as one of the great geniuses of British art.

Considered by many to be mad during life, Blake’s influence extends far beyond visual arts, inspiring not only artists but writers, poets, musicians and illustrators.

He was attracted to narratives and themes - including Biblical subjects and classical poetry - that enabled him to express the triumph of innocence and virtue over tyranny and hypocrisy. His philosophy was underpinned by unorthodox political beliefs, profound anti-materialism and the notion that there existed a more significant spiritual world beyond mere physical existence.

The exhibition is divided into three main themes and I have chosen a painting which reflects each theme.

Paradise Lost: Innocence and Childhood – in this painting Age Teaching Youth, Blake meditates on the symbiosis between innocence and experience.

Experience and Wisdom – Blake felt that Art provided an insight into the metaphysical world and was potentially redemptive for humanity. His painting of Isaac Newton (the personification of rationalism) expresses Blake’s rejection of scientific rationalism.

Death and the Afterlife – Blake’s visions of the after life were dazzling. This is illustrated in his painting The Body of Abel Found by Adam and Eve. Throughout his work the Bible provides Blake’s intellectual foundation.

The exhibition is not without it's critics, the cultural intelligentsia who claim that this exhibition 'is not representative of his body of work'.
Tosh and piffle say I. This wonderful exhibition of some fifty paintings, on a 'free entry, donation optional' basis, is completely in keeping with the policy of the Tate - art for all.
I enjoyed the exhibition hugely.



  1. Hello Michael,

    I'm not really familiar with Blake's works although, like many others I imagine, I have seen images of the last two pictures. I'm glad you enjoyed the exhibition.

  2. Thank you for introducing us with another artist. Your blogs are always worth visiting. Beautiful weekend for you.