In my mind 'Blake's Jerusalem' has long been confused with 'Parry's Jerusalem' at my school's Founder's Day. I saw the invitation to take part in this project as an opportunity to reclaim the inspiration of the words from a world where 'building Jerusalem' was treated much the same as doing well in exams or playing for the First XI (I managed the former but not the latter)
So the words had to be part of what I made. And then I thought of the 'William Blake: Apprentice and Master' exhibition at the Ashmolean Museum last year, when I was fascinated by his method of incorporating text into his plates. And so the idea of a book soon followed, and with it a series of obvious but awkward questions. How to do the lettering? - it had to be mine, not printed, but I am no calligrapher . And what images, literal or metaphorical, figurative or abstract, would do the job and capture something of the emotion and spirit that was so lacking all those years ago in High Barnet Parish Church in North London?
Blake's own imagery and colours remained a bit of a problem for me - in his preface to the poem 'Milton', where the words of Jerusalem appear, pink, yellow and blue predominate, not a combination that immediately appeals to me. And I find his figures somewhat overblown, verging on the grotesque.
A day at the West Yorkshire Print Workshop earlier this year set me on the path of a series of monoprints with ordinary hand-written text (a bit of inspiration from Tracey Emin there)
The work is in progress. Decisions about colour are emerging, in large part inspired by the find of a piece of superb quality Hainsworth woollen cloth in a brilliant royal blue which has to be the cover. And taking inspiration from such a beautiful thing from a mill, ideas about industrial images have influenced the designs for the prints, and I have persuaded myself that blue, pink and yellow might work. Here's a rough sketch of a possible title page.
11 April 2016