A few weeks ago we visited the revamped Whitworth Gallery in Manchester. The main exhibition featured works by Cornelia Parker. One of the exhibits was ‘Black Path (Bunhill Fields)’, a bronze cast made of the cracks in the pavements of the cemetery, where William Blake, one of my heroes, is buried. It’s an interesting work.
So, last Saturday when I had a couple of hours to spare in the afternoon, as it was a reasonably fine day, I decided to go and have a look at the cemetery, pay homage to Blake and see if I could locate the pavement Cornelia Smith had cast (yes, quite sad, I know!). The cemetery is a green oasis in amongst a heavily built up area just outside the boundaries of the City of London, and if’s close to Moorgate station which was on a direct tube line from Edgware Road, which was across the road from where I was staying. It looked particularly attractive with the spring flowers blooming and fresh green leaves appearing on the many trees.
There is a memorial headstone to William Blake and his wife, Catherine Sophia.
However, it’s not actually located over his grave, which was several yards away. It was relocated when a section of the cemetery was turned into a lawn. The site of the grave was rediscovered following work by the Blake Society. The location of Catherine’s grave isn’t known.
The cemetery was principally used for the burial of dissenters (William Blake being a prime example). Other well known “residents” include John Bunyan (Pilgrim’s Progress)
Daniel Defoe, who has a memorial obelisk, next to which Blake’s memorial was relocated
and the Reverend Thomas Bayes, whose claim to fame, Bayesian statistics, has become very much the “in thing” for analysing data in my profession. Indeed, there was a tutorial on the topic taking place prior to the conference at the very time I was visiting his grave.
I spent a pleasant hour mooching around. As for Cornelia Parker’s cracks in the pavement, despite walking around the cemetery staring at the ground (other visitors must have doubted my sanity) I never did manage to locate the exact section.