Jas heard today that both his Orcs will be in the Cork Street exhibition in London until the end of January. We’d like to send him well deserved and hearty congratulations!! We all wish him luck.

Taken from Jas’s website:-

In Blake’s work “America: A Prophecy”, Orc is the embodied symbol of a disruptive power inimical to the established order, whose function is to rebel against … the status quo [1]. What was true for Blake: that the status quo was destructive and sterile, is fast becoming true again. For Blake, … Orc appears as a symbolic picture of the return of the repressed to the level of consciousness by the vehicle of political revolution; he is the inevitable result of sexual repression, which Blake, unlike Freud, regarded as inimical rather than necessary to civilized life. In the terms of Blake’s myth, when … the Id is repressed … it will break forth with terrible force as Orc … as political revolution [2].

We live now in a state of overt sexuality: apparently anything goes. But this so-called liberation exists within very strict limitations. Sex is now ‘out in the open’, but what is permissible is governed by a collective sense of what constitutes ‘normality’. Anything outside that, rather than being ‘brushed under the carpet’ as it was for Blake when much sexuality was repressed, is now actively persecuted, sometimes by mob violence, by an hysteria created almost entirely by a prurient, prudish and thoroughly hypocritical popular press. Indeed, it would not be too much to say that such collective ‘normality’ as we have is itself a product of that same popular press: a tabloid morality.

To be outside ‘normal’ is now, perhaps, a more perilous situation than it has ever been. And yet this view of normality is very recent, normality being whatever society deems it. Normality for many cultures was, is, and will be, very different.

Orc for me represents all the sexual potential that is repressed by the culture in which I find myself. It is as dangerous as it is desirable.

This piece is the first of a series.

[1] Randel Helms: Myth, Magic & Meaning in Tolkien’s World: Thames & Hudson 1974: Ch.4 “Frodo as Anti- Faust”

(Photograph courtesy of Carmel Hamilton)