Celebrating Blake, Shelley and Turner at Petworth House

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Blakefest, an annual event that celebrates the time William Blake spent in Sussex and his links with Felpham, Bognor Regis and Petworth, will this year also commemorate the bicentenary of the Sussex Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, and the artist Joseph Turner who painted some of his greatest works at Petworth House. 

Radical Visionaries – Blake, Turner and Shelley, is jointly organised by the South Downs Poetry Festival and Blakefest, and is being held on 24 September at the National Trust’s Petworth House. 

The panel of guests includes the author and curator of Brighton Royal Pavilion, Alexandra Loske, the editor of Frogmore Press and writer Jeremy Page, award-winning poets James Simpson and Mandy Pannett, actor Emily Rose Smith and classical guitarist Zoe Barnett. 

SDPF director Barry Smith said: “We are absolutely delighted to bring together three organisations with the joint purpose of highlighting Sussex’s cultural contribution to the world of books and paintings. Audiences can explore the visions in pictures and words of three great artists and writers, Blake, Shelley and Turner, in the magnificent surroundings of Petworth House. 

“The event begins with a complimentary glass of prosecco in the Battery House with music on guitar by Zoe Barnett, who recently won the Sussex Young Musician of the Year Award, and poems by South Downs writers James Simpson and Mandy Pannett. Dr Alexandra Loske will bring her expertise to illumine the great visions in art of Blake and Turner while Jeremy Page will talk on the poetry of Blake and Shelley.”

The audience will then tour key rooms in Petworth House where a number of Blake’s famous paintings, including his depictions of Milton’s Paradise Lost and Spencer’s Fairy Queen, can be viewed amongst the treasures of the North Gallery as well as the collection of Turner masterpieces on loan from the Tate in adjacent rooms. As they view the artworks, the audience can listen to a mix of Blake and Shelley’s words performed by actress Emily Rose Smith, who recently read with Roger McGough in Chichester Cathedral, and music by classical guitarist Zoe Barnett.  

William Blake lived in the Sussex seaside village of Felpham near Bognor Regis from 1801-1803, where he saw visions of angels, was inspired to write the words of Jerusalem, and was later acquitted at his trial for sedition in Chichester. The Earl of Egremont purchased several of Blake’s important paintings from his widow, Catherine. They have remained in the collection ever since. Percy Bysshe Shelley was born at Field Place near Horsham and his father was MP for Shoreham. Turner was commissioned by the Earl to produce some of his finest paintings. More details

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