By Suzie Ragab
On Saturday 19th November CoolTan Arts’ Largactyl Shuffle group staged another enjoyable and very successful walk exploring the life and work of William Blake, in a unique guided cultural tour starting at Tate Modern, ending at Bunhill Cemetery.
The walk focused on William Blake, an English poet, painter, and printmaker (1757 – 1827). Largely unrecognized during his lifetime, Blake is now considered a seminal figure in the history of both the poetry and visual arts of the Romantic Age. Lesser known is his frequent experience of visions and unearthly sights, reflected in the religious content of his work, which nowadays may well be classed as mental distress.
The walk stopped for talks and exploration at Millennium Bridge, St. Paul’s Cathedral, The London Stone, The Barbican, Cheapside and the old city of London. During the five mile tour we explored themes of Blake’s poetry and art, the politics of 18th century Europe and London and current similarities, such as the sit-ins at St. Paul’s and around the City. We also learnt about Blake’s religious beliefs and his spirituality; his visions on Peckham Rye; and Angelology. The walk ended poignantly with a volunteer singing one of Blake’s poems by his graveside in Bunhill Cemetery, where the group placed flowers in tribute to his memory.
As a charity encouraging mental well-being through art and creative activities, CoolTan Arts was well placed to delve into the mysteries of this historic figure, making connections between art and mental health both now and then.
With over 40 walkers and a team of trained volunteers the walk passed as an unqualified success. Highlights of the Shuffle included a trip to the Whispering Galleries at the top of St. Paul’s Cathedral, organised by CoolTan Arts volunteer.
The William Blake Walk was one of a series of monthly walks held by CoolTan Arts, led by volunteers. They cover art history, comedy and other quirky themes.