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Saturday, 25 September 2010

William Blake: Get to thy Labours at the Mills


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Cotton Compress, Wilmington, N.C.

Cotton compress, Wilmington, North Carolina: postcard (detail), c. 1905-1915 (Durwood Barbour Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)



File:Satanic mills.jpg

Milton: A Poem: William Blake, c. 1809


4 comments:

curtisroberts said...

I am very glad Beyond The Pale posts stay up (theoretically) forever because this tryptich is at once so intense and compressed (in terms of the subjects it treats and its levels of meaning and implication) and yet so open and generous visually. For me, there's a lot to work out and it doesn't invite easy bantering comment. It's serious and will repay long thought and re-viewing. I've made a start. I now know something about cotton compresses (including what they are; growing up on Long Island you don't hear very much about them) and about L.S. Lowry, with whom I was previously unfamiliar but whose life and career are fascinating. I haven't left the Blake out either. I didn't say any of this very well, but I know I'll be back for another try as I live with it more.

TC said...

Thanks very much, Curtis.

The Lowry (like the Blake) was intended as a "distancing" shot, to lend perspective, and to place this view of the Southern cotton manufacturing industry within a larger frame of human industrial development that stretches back beyond the Piedmont Mills to the worlds of Dickens and Blake, to "Hard Times" and "Milton: A Poem".

curtisroberts said...

Thank you. I definitely picked up on the "distancing shot" nature of the Lowry, but initially focused on the Blake as the central component of the piece, with the top and bottom acting as "wings". Since all of the elements are so powerful seen together, they're still working their way through me. We're definitely in "a picture is worth a thousand words" territory, even when (or especially when, perhaps), one of the pictures includes words. The work you invested in this was definitely worth it.

TC said...

Curtis, yes, wings: heavy, leaden ones perhaps, cast in some ancient foundry.