VisLit#3: Blake, Tate & Mosaic


Using one of the proverbs listed below, free write for five minutes.

Select a sentence or two from the free write, and turn it into your own ‘proverb’,

Write on the reverse of the original and pass along to your neighbour.

The new proverb becomes the catalyst for an illustration.

Share the illustration, new proverb, and original proverb.

  • Expect poison from Standing Water (45)

  • He who desires, but acts not, breeds Pestilence (5)

  • The Fox provides for himself, but God provides for the Lion (28)

  • Exuberance is Beauty (64)

  • The Cistern contains, the Fountain overflows (35)

  • If the Fool would persist in his Folly, he would become wise (18)

  • The Eyes of Fire; the Nostrils of Air; the Mouth of Water; the Beard of Earth (48)

  • The Roaring of Lions, the Howling of Wolves, the Raging of the Stormy Seas, and the Destructive Sword are Portions of Eternity too great for the Eye of Man. (27)

Blake’s Proverbs made into mosaics (below)

Blake's Proverbs at TateBlake's Proverbs at TateBlake's Proverbs at TateBlake's Proverbs at TateBlake's Proverbs at Tate


Check out the room by the ground floor gift shop, where all these proverbs are used in a floor mosaic. Here’s some background information – Tate Mosaic info


I wander thro’ each charter’d street,

Near where the charter’d Thames does flow.

And mark in every face I meet

Marks of weakness, marks of woe.

In every cry of every Man,

In every Infants cry of fear,

In every voice: in every ban,

The mind-forg’d manacles I hear

How the Chimney-sweepers cry

Every blackning Church appalls,

And the hapless Soldiers sigh

Runs in blood down Palace walls

But most thro’ midnight streets I hear

How the youthful Harlots curse

Blasts the new-born Infants tear

And blights with plagues the Marriage hearse


After visiting Blake Display at Tate Britain

and the mosaic floor, follow the map to Waterloo via Hercules road MAP

(NB Lambeth Bridge is (oddly) omitted from this map, but it is the most convenient way to reach the mosaics)

On your way from Tate to the Blake mosaics marked on the map, observe the Thames, and the sights of London –

Make notes. Make sketches, take photos…

Blake made up his own words. Make some up to describe what you see.


1 Write your own short (16 line) poem* on London as experience and innocence: London as a place of optimism or pessimism

Use your own symbols and characters, and illustrate it.

*This can be interpreted as broadly as you care – eg. 8 x two-line captions for photos, or 16 illustrated tweets


  • Illustrate Blake’s ‘London’, or another poem by Blake, in your own style, using imagery relevant to you and to now.
    credit: Marlena Woolford

    credit: Marlena Woolford

    credit: Marlena Woolford

    credit: Marlena Woolford

    Phyllis's sketchbook

    Phyllis’s sketchbook

    Ray's street rubbing

  • Leslie's Dystopian skyline
  • astrid digitally graffitis Blake3astrid digitally graffitis Blake2astrid digitally graffitis Blake1
  • IMG_0850IMG_0816

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