VIDEO: Felpham hosts William Blake Festival

A CROWD-FUNDING campaign to buy William Blake’s cottage in Felpham has been launched at a festival.

The festival, called Golgonooza, was put on by The Big Blake Project and run by the Blake 7, whose collective aim it is to celebrate the life and work of William Blake.

Staci Mendoza from Littlehampton at The William Blake Festival in Felpham SUS-140920-145748001

Staci Mendoza from Littlehampton at The William Blake Festival in Felpham SUS-140920-145748001

An appeal to raise £500,000 to buy Blake’s cottage, hopes to put Felpham and Bognor Regis on the map and help cultural regeneration in the area.

Dozens of people have been flocking to the festival, which is being held at Old Rectory Gardens today (Saturday, September 20), until 8pm this evening.

There is music and dancing, poetry, comedy, art, story telling, choirs and drawing.

Rachel Searle, of the Big Blake Project, said she was pleased with how the morning had gone.

“We had more than 100 people here this morning,” she said.

“People have really enjoyed the day so far. It has been a year of firsts for the project - this is our first festival. We are so excited to have such a diverse range of people and organisations involved.”

MP Nick Gibb even attended this morning, joined by Cllr John Hughes of Arun District Council, Cllr Graham Jones and Cllr David Edwards

Artists and poets will be performing throughout the day and there are performances from Stewart Nicol, Kevin Short, Arabesque, Jo Johnson, Abbie Palache, Tom Dorkin, Chris Seaton and Bognor Community Choir.

Beryl Kingston, life-long fan of Blake, will be performing at the festival. Beryl has written about Blake’s time in Felpham and his trial in Gates of Paradise. She was the main judge for the William Blake Poetry Prize last year and this year, was picked by Stephen Fry out of thousands of entries as the winner of the Blake Poetry Competition.

The festival also hosted international artists Delaine and Damien Le Bas, Abby Wilkinson, Richard Rookwood and artists from Littlehampton’s Organisation of Contemporary Arts.

Ken Walton, of O’Hagan’s sausages was even serving a Blake banger.

“The recipe goes back to the year of Blake’s birth,” he said. “It seemed like a good recipe to use.”

The festival was the last in a series of events. Michael Phillips, printer and scholar, talked on Blake’s process at a talk called Wayzgoose at St Mary’s Church. Kevin Short performed Blakishness - an A to Z of comedy, poetry, music and video at the William Hardwicke Pub in Bognor Regis on Friday.

Blake lived in the cottage for three years between 1800 and 1803. It was his home while he wrote Jerusalem, with words which continue to inspire the nation today.

community groups have also lent their support to the project, which is being sponsored by Butlins and the University of Chichester among others.

To find out more, visit The Big Blake Project