William Blake (1757-1827) expressed an ardent belief in the freedom of the imagination through his poetry and striking symbolic paintings. He rejected traditional composition and his ideas of perspective evoked an enigmatic otherworldliness. His poems reflect a uniquely personal mystical vision one in which imagination and reality become one. He believed the spiritual was far more important than the material world, and that the true artist is a prophet because he or she is given divine insight. Thomas Phillips’s portrait of Blake aged 50 depicts him in an awkward pose suggesting latent energy. The eyes are fixed on some transcendent reality. As an engraver, painter, poet, visionary and prophet of the modern age Blake is perhaps one of the most distinctive of all English romantics. He was all at once astonishingly original and yet deeply grounded in the radical dissenting tradition from which he came.
Carolyn McDowall FRSA has gained considerable experience and business acumen in her professional career. An independent cultural and social historian, Carolyn is an interior designer by trade. She has been involved in the creative sector for over thirty years in Australia; completing interior design projects, creating and producing innovative corporate and not-for profit (social profit) community events. She has over that time continuously conducted independent research , while designing, developing, and producing educational art and design history programs in conjunction with renowned specialist colleagues.