A meeting of great artists: Dylan Thomas and Sir Peter Blake
This year for Mirror of the World we’ve curated a display that unites two major cultural figures of the 20th century: fast-living Welsh poet Dylan Thomas, born 100 years ago this year, and revered English artist Sir Peter Blake, who created many of the 1960s’ most iconic images. In 2013, Blake published an illustrated edition of Thomas’ famous ‘play for voices’, Under Milk Wood.
Dylan Thomas (1914–1953) blazed a bright but troubled path through 20th-century literature. He achieved almost immediate success (but little financial reward) when his first poems were published in 1934. An idiosyncratic and inventive use of rhythm, rhyme and imagery characterised Thomas’ poems, most famously in his radio play Under Milk Wood (1953), set in the fictional Welsh village of Llareggub (‘bugger all’ backwards). It was first broadcast on the BBC two months after Thomas’ premature death (aged 39) in New York from pneumonia and chronic alcoholism.
Sir Peter Blake (born 1932) is one of England’s leading pop artists, with a wide-ranging oeuvre that includes painting, printmaking, furniture design, graphic design and album covers, most famously the iconic cover of the Beatles’ seminal concept album, Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967). Along with his contemporaries David Hockney and R.B. Kitaj, Blake’s distinctive style (fusing multiple media, often in collage) defined the visual aesthetic of ‘Swinging London’ in the 1960s.
His illustrated edition of Under Milk Wood was created gradually over 25 years, and its publication is the culmination of a lifelong fascination with Dylan Thomas’ poetry. The library’s copy is number 41 of the De Luxe Edition of 100, which includes a limited edition print and specially designed solander box to house the publication. All are displayed, along with other famous examples of Blake’s oeuvre.
These works will be on display until October 2015.
Richard Burton, Dylan Thomas and Wales. Magic