17 September – 27 October 2018
The Practical Visionary is a collaged dialogue between poets and artists Sophie Herxheimer and Chris McCabe, and their luminary inspiration, William Blake.
The project, both as book and exhibition, began with Chris and Sophie exchanging imaginary letters between Blake and the Citizens of London, and evolved through photographing timeless and fleeting details on Lambeth streets, to create 21st-century visions parallel to Blake’s mythology. Puddles become a lake where Blake heard the wailing of unborn souls, and the centre of a wheel becomes the eye of Urizen, the personification of reason. These images are spliced together and expanded with glimpses of borrowed words and pages from a giant bible and a tiny nonconformist self-help book salvaged from a skip.
In Herxheimer and McCabe’s creative response to the work of this country’s most imaginative artist-poet, The Practical Visionary moves freely between Blake’s world and ours, demonstrating why his voice is a powerful and necessary as ever.
The Practical Visionaries Workshop, led by Sophie Herxheimer and Chris McCabe, was held at The Poetry Society (upstairs studio) on Thursday 11 October, 6.30pm-8.30pm.
About the artists
Chris McCabe’s fifth poetry collection The Triumph of Cancer will be published by Penned in the Margins in October 2018. His first novel, Dedalus, is just published by Henningham Family Press. Chris has recorded with the Poetry Archive and was shortlisted for The Ted Hughes Award in 2013 for his collaborative book with Maria Vlotides, Pharmapoetica. His plays Shad Thames, Broken Wharf and Mudflats, which won a Northern Arts Award, have been performed in London and Liverpool. The first two books in his series aiming to discover a great lost poet in each of London’s Magnificent Seven cemeteries, In the Catacombs: a Summer Among the Dead Poets of West Norwood Cemetery (2014) and Cenotaph South: Mapping the Lost Poets of Nunhead Cemetery (2016), are published by Penned in the Margins. He is also the author of Real South Bank (Seren, 2016) and, with Victoria Bean, co-editor of The New Concrete: Visual Poetry in the 21st Century (Hayward Publishing, 2015). He works as the National Poetry Librarian at the National Poetry Library, Southbank Centre.
Sophie Herxheimer is an artist and poet. Her work has been shown at her local allotments and at Tate Modern, at The National Portrait Gallery and on a 48-metre hoarding along the seafront in Margate. Her most recent commission has been to make new portraits of 26 essential poets for The Poetry Foundation in Chicago. Her work has been published in The Poetry Review, Brixton Review of Books and Wasafiri magazine amongst others. Recent books include Velkom to Inklandt, which was selected as an Observer book of the month and a Sunday Times book of the year (Short Books 2017) and Your Candle Accompanies the Sun (Henningham Family Press 2017.) She has an ongoing project of collecting stories live in ink by writing and drawing in collaboration with members of the public on different themes. She currently has a hundred of these on show at the Migration Museum. Sophie teaches and collaborates extensively. sophieherxheimer.com