Visionary Mapping: Creating Blakean Worlds

poster for Pari Center's Longing for Wholeness

This is an excerpt from one of the presentations featured in the Pari Center’s event Longing for Wholeness, in Pari from August 27 to September 3, 2024.

When William Blake introduced the Four Zoas into his mythology, he created a spiritual compass. Each Zoa is an aspect in every human and in eternity. Tharmas, in the West, is sensation. Urizen, in the South, is reason. Luvah, in the East, is emotion, and Urthona, in the North, is imagination. Urthona, the Artist-Zoa does not manifest into a vivid person like the three other Zoas do. Instead, Urthona, the earth-owner, is divided into four personalities. Of these, two creative figures are a blacksmith-poet named Los who has the Sun as his emblem, and a weaver of forms named Enitharmon who has the moon as her emblem. They represent imagination and inspiration.  Spectre and Shadow have also separated from the spiritual artist Urthona. All aspects need to connect creatively, and to bring themselves into harmonious balance. 

The materials for visionary mapping and globe making are offered by Blake. These are materials of the imagination. Like the contents of the inhabited world of a Medieval Mappa Mundi, William Blake’s artwork drew inspiration from many biblical and mythological sources. He also created his own mythic artist-self. The artist holds their world as a microcosm to the whole world as they imagine it to be. Knowing the world to be fragile and constantly changing, creative cosmos images reflect this. Mapping features different kinds of borders. For Blake, borders can be portals, caverns, spiral steps and the rocky path under his feet, but ultimately, they offer a multifaceted vision of wholeness shared.

Andrea McLean is an artist working with themes of Spiritual Mapping. She studied painting at Falmouth School of Art and the Slade followed by an Abbey Scholarship to the British School at Rome. Andrea was Artist in Residence in Gloucester Cathedral. At Bleddfa Art Centre, she created a circular painting about the cosmos. Exhibitions have included The Edge of Printing at the Royal Academy Keeper’s House, Mapping Inspirations at Hereford Cathedral, and Andrea’sMappa Mundi, a circular canvas stretched over a Bell-Wheel, is on display at the British Library. A Map of William Blake’s Life & Visions, painted by Andrea, is published by The Blake Society. Andrea is a faculty tutor at the Royal Drawing School where she co-leads courses on Mapping, Mythology and William Blake’s London.