On Wednesday night, I was rushing to get my train home from work when I noticed the dome of St Paul‘s Cathedral looking rather different. Passing by the south side of the Cathedral, I saw parts of an artwork I somewhat recognised, but couldn’t put my finger on from the angle I was looking from. I searched Twitter, Instagram and Google for an explanation and found a few similarly, baffled Londoners tweeting their confusion, but couldn’t find out why it was there. Fortunately, an explanation came an hour later when a photo agency’s website featured images of the projection and had helpfully captioned it was ‘Ancient of Days’ by William Blake (1757-1827). Subsequently, the projection was all over the media the following day. I think I must have caught the warm-up!
Officially launching on Thursday 28 November 2019 – on what would have been Blake’s 262nd birthday – ‘Ancient Of Days’ was projected to fulfil the artist/author’s dream – nearly two centuries after his death. The Soho-born poet always wished to see his work displayed on churches and buildings, but his talents weren’t properly appreciated during his lifetime. ‘Ancient of Days’ is widely considered his final masterpiece and was painted the year of his death.
The projection not only coincides with Blake’s birthday, but also a current exhibition of his work at the Tate Britain (which runs until 2 February 2020). The installation is a collaboration between St Paul’s and the Tate, with Sam Gainsborough animating the work (see the video below). The location is apt because a memorial to Blake lies in the Cathedral. However he was actually buried about a mile away in Bunhill Fields and after years in an unmarked grave, his resting place was finally identified and given a gravestone last year.
- The projection will be on St Paul’s Cathedral from 28 November – 1 December 2019. From 4.30pm-9pm. On St Paul’s Cathedral, St. Paul’s Churchyard, City of London, EC4M 8AD. Nearest station: St Paul’s or Mansion House.
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For a guide to what else is on in London this December, click here.