|Opens this Wednesday 6–8.30pm
AT FLAT TIME HOUSE
Opening Wedesday 29 January 6–8.30pm
with a reading from William Blake’s Jersualem by poet Chris McCabe
Exhibition continues 30 January–8 March
Open Thursday–Sunday 12–6pm
With contributions from Keith Jarrett, Chris McCabe, Niall McDevitt, Robert Montgomery, Karen Sandhu, Iain Sinclair and Tamar Yoseloff
Curated by Chris McCabe in partnership with Flat Time House and Magnus Rena of the Sir Denis Mahon Foundation
This exhibition gives a unique opportunity to view Blake’s work in the domestic environment of Latham’s home – the ‘living sculpture’ of Flat Time House and embodiment of Latham’s worldview. The show is also an opportunity to bring Blake back to Peckham, at a site close to the Rye where, as a young boy, he had his vision of “a tree filled with angels, bright angelic wings bespangling every bough like stars.”
The two series of works by Blake, from a private collection, generously lent for this exhibition by The Sir Denis Mahon Foundation, are prints by Blake in which he illustrated two poems by Thomas Gray, ‘The Bard’ and ‘The Fatal Sisters’. They were commissioned in 1797 by Blake’s friend, the sculptor John Flaxman and produced over the following year. Blake mounted Gray’s poems to windows cut into large sheets of paper, then drawing and colouring his designs to surround the text. The full series is regarded amongst Blake’s major achievements as an illustrator. Throughout the series Blake emphasises the importance of imagination at work in the world through inspired acts of reading, writing, and performing music.
Thomas Grey’s poem, The Bard, was itself a potent influence on future generations of poets and painters, seen by many as the first creative work of the Celtic Revival and as lying at the root of the Romantic movement in Britain. Blake’s Gray works were pretty much unknown until 1919 and the twentieth century reprint as hand-coloured collotypes are significant in playing an important part of the process in making the piece more widely known.
Alongside these works, poets, writers and artists using language, have been commissioned to reflect on the contemporary relevance of Blake and Latham’s work. Blake and Latham each created complex, esoteric and all-encompassing cosmologies, which examined the nature and structure of the universe from within the constraints of daily life. The poetic responses to their ideas are presented alongside the artwork and written word by Blake, within the context of Latham’s home and in Peckham, a spiritual home for Blake.
Image: Title-page of The Bard illustrated by William Blake, c. 1798, one of a set of 14 sheets, collotype and hand-colouring on wove paper with separately printed paper (unbound). Part of William Blake watercolour designs for the Poems of Thomas Gray, published by Trianon Press for the William Blake Trust, London 1972
|POETS IN RESPONSE TO BLAKE
Wednesday 19 February
Free. Doors 6.30pm Readings 7pm
CHRIS MCCABE, NIALL MCDEVITT, KAREN SANDHU + IAIN SINCLAIR
Wednesday 26 February
Free. Doors 6.30pm Readings 7pm
KEITH JARRETT, CHRIS MCCABE, ROBERT MONTGOMERY + TAMAR YOSELOFF
Come along to hear from some of the UK’s most dynamic poets as they present new work in response to Flat Time House’s exhibition, The Bard. Over 250 years after the young William Blake saw a vision of an angel in a tree on Peckham Rye, Flat Time House has commissioned six poets to bring their words and visions to Peckham. Each of the poets has been commissioned to write in response to the life and work of William Blake and/or in response to that other creator of cosmologies, John Latham. You will have time to see how the poet’s words have been installed on the walls of Flat Time House as part of the exhibition, as well as hearing the new work written in response to two artists (Blake and Latham) who felt they ‘must create a system or be enslaved by another man’s’ (Jerusalem).
Image: Detail from The Fatal Sisters illustrated by William Blake, c. 1798, one of a set of 11 sheets, collotype and hand-colouring on wove paper with separately printed paper (unbound). Part of William Blake watercolour designs for the Poems of Thomas Gray, published by Trianon Press for the William Blake Trust, London 1972
|BLAKE WALK of PECKHAM
Sunday 23 February 1–3pm
Walk begins at 1pm, exhibition open from 12pm
Join poets and psychogeographers Chris McCabe and Niall McDevitt on a Blake-inspired walk through Peckham. Drawing on The Bard exhibition at Flat Time House, McCabe and McDevitt will lead you through this area of London associated with Blake’s ramblings.
Beginning at Flat Time House, the walk will visit the Goose Green mural which depicts Blake’s boyhood vision of an angel on Peckham Rye. The walk will then go to the Rye itself in search for the tree that Blake saw his angel in, and then on diversion along the River Peck, one of many rivers that Blake was drawn to in his lifetime. The walk will end at Nunhead Cemetery, known as Nunhead Hill in Blake’s day, where Blake’s words will be read out loud to the urban dead. This walk is participatory and will invite thoughts and readings from Blake’s poems from everyone on the walk who would like to contribute.
Image: Detail from The Bard illustrated by William Blake, c. 1798, one of a set of 14 sheets, collotype and hand-colouring on wove paper with separately printed paper (unbound). Part of William Blake watercolour designs for the Poems of Thomas Gray, published by Trianon Press for the William Blake Trust, London 1972
|CONSERVATION WORK TO FTHO’S FACE SCULPTURE
Seventeen years to the day since the Flat Time House’s famous Face sculpture was completed, the work has been de-installed for extensive conservation work.
Fabricated from Fibreglass and Jesmonite with an aluminium and stainless steel support, significant weathering has caused the outside parts of the book to become fragile and distorted. Conservation work by art fabricators, Arteffects, will ensure the book is safe to remain on the front of Flat Time House for, at least, another 17 years. The window will be vacant for the current exhibition, The Bard: William Blake at Flat Time House, but the Face sculpture will return within a few months.
When commissioned by Southwark Council to produce a sculpture for the regeneration of his street in Peckham, John Latham chose not to produce a traditional public sculpture, but rather designate his house itself an artwork. For the passer-by, the most apparent manifestation of his intention is this book sculpture that pierces the front of the house. Held by the glass pane of the front window of the house, it hovers suspended half in the public realm and half inside. The title on the spine of the book reads ‘HOW THE UNIVOICE IS STILL UNHEARD’, referring to Latham’s unifying cosmology, Flat Time. Latham renamed the house FLAT TIME I-IO, (usually referred to as Flat Time House).
Latham had lived on Bellenden Road since 1983 but the process of commissioning and production in the early 2000s led to him reconsidering the nature of the building he lived and worked in. At the point of the book sculpture’s completion in 2003 he had come to think of it as an organism, describing it as a living sculpture. The front of the house is known as the Face, the sculpture intersecting the front window acting a signifier for all the activity, continuing to this day, that takes place within.
We would like to thank Steve Haines and the rest of the Arteffects team for their dedicated work and the Henry Moore Foundation and the John Latham Foundation for their generous support of this important conservation project.
|NOIT — 5
BODIES AS IN BUILDINGS
Price £17.50 + Postage
NOIT — 5: bodies as in buildings is a collection of essays, short stories, and images exploring what happens when the domestic, the home, and the body are alienated from their most basic associations and given new ones. In these works, the threshold between house and street, the distinction between the public and private, becomes porous and inexhaustibly complex. NOIT — 5 features works by students from the MA Writing Programme at the Royal College of Art and an afterword by Brian Dillon.
NOIT is a creative journal published by Flat Time House. Comprising new writing and visual contributions, NOIT explores the theoretical concerns and artwork of John Latham (1921–2006), and their continued relevance.
|Flat Time House
210 Bellenden Road
London SE15 4BW
+44 (0)20 7207 4845
Flat Time House is a few minutes walk from Peckham Rye and East Dulwich British Rail stations. There are regular, fast trains from London Bridge & Victoria. Buses to Peckham Library or Rye Lane.
The John Latham Foundation