A photographic, visual interpretation of William Blake’s 1794 poem ‘London’.
Photographed in London in 2014/2015.
I wandered through each chartered street,
Near where the chartered Thames does flow,
A mark in every face I meet,
Marks of weakness, marks of woe.
In every cry of every man,
In every infant’s cry of fear,
In every voice, in every ban,
The mind-forged manacles I hear:
How the chimney-sweeper’s cry
Every blackening church appals,
And the hapless soldier’s sigh
Runs in blood down palace-walls.
But most, through midnight streets I hear
How the youthful harlot’s curse
Blasts the new-born infant’s tear,
And blights with plagues the marriage-hearse.
12 A6 Lambda prints on Ilford FB Paper in an embossed presentation box with silk screened sheets by Pirrip Press. Limited edition of 9. Numbered & signed. 2016.
Short animated film of the images by Hellicar & Lewis. 2015.
A short photographic film of William Blake’s poem, ‘London’. Voices tumbling over one another and the clarinet’s rounded tones meandering between mournful lines began when James discovered that Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum was due to host an exhibition on Blake’s life. Already a frequent visitor to the Ashmolean – having been their Artist in Residence in 2010-11 – he set out to visualise Blake’s experience of the capital by exploring 21st century London across a four week period in 2014. Neither choreographed nor scripted, the resulting video was born from these late night walks across the city’s bridges, parks and streets, where he photographed members of the public whose behaviour captured something of the desolation felt in Blake’s lines. When married with clarinetist Mark Farrall’s improvised fragment, the photographs and disjointed voiceover seek to reflect the isolation found in Blake’s echoing rhymes, as the repeated words and sounds rise and fall like the flow of the Thames at the poem’s opening. The film was was directed by James A. Hudson and Amy Bleasdale, and animated by Hellicar & Lewis.