Blake’s links to be shown by new trail

WILLIAM Blake is set to take centre stage in Bognor Regis and Felpham.

Work to create an art trail in memory of the famous poet is in its final stages.

The project is due to be launched in late July with an X Factor-style poetry competition.

Blake wrote his best-known work, Jerusalem, in the three years he lived in Felpham from 1800. One of the Big Blake Project’s organisers, Rachel Searle, said it was time Blake emerged from the shadows of the area’s history.

He lived in Felpham for three years from 1800.

“Blake was in love with Felpham,” she said. “He had lived in London and coming here allowed him to see nature and to see the sea.

“He would walk along the footpath from Felpham to Bognor and along the seafront. It completely changed the way he viewed the world.

“It was a really creative time for him. And Jerusalem is absolutely everywhere. It was in an episode of Dr Who I watched recently and, yet, there is no local recognition it was written here.”

Newsagent David Silver has donated a shop in The Arcade to help to publicise the project.

The intended centrepiece of the trail will be a mosaic either on the bridge over the Aldingbourne Rife on the Felpham/Bognor boundary on the A259 Felpham Way or the adjoining community orchard.

Up to six artists, such as Kate Pollard, have become involved. The project has also reached out to pupils at schools around the area.

The Cloudhopper Gallery in the High Street will also feature the project when it opens soon.

A 16-page booklet will highlight the trail from Blake’s cottage, in Blakes Road, into the town centre – via Hotham Park with its Cold Frames sculpture – and draw attention to the sights he would have seen.

“Church Field is the only field left within Felpham. It was all fields when Blake lived here,” said Felpham resident Rachel Searle.

A Blake’s Way cycle route between Felpham and Lavant will also be detailed. The project arose after economics lecturer Rachel applied for some of the regeneration money from Sainsbury’s.

She failed, but decided to continue after she received other support. It includes the Greener Bognor Network.

n Mrs Searle has handed in a 1,221-name petition to Arun District Council calling for Church Field to go into Felpham’s conservation area as a protected green space.