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William Blake’s Phantom Face

  • Free
  • Discussion
  • Audio described
Photograph of a seated audience at an event in the Reading Room at Wellcome Collection. At the front of the room a panel of 6 speakers are seated facing the audience with microphones.
Event in the Reading Room, Camilla Greenwell. Source: Wellcome Collection. Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0).

What you’ll do

Join historian Sibylle Erle as she discusses ‘The Ghost of a Flea’, a fantastical painting by artist and poet William Blake. The subject of the painting is a monstrous amalgamation of man and flea, which was inspired by a spiritual vision. Dr Erle will explore themes related to the work, such as astrology and its connection to human appearance and personality, vampirism, and Blake’s mystical circle of acquaintances. You’ll be able to ask questions during the talk.

After the talk you’ll have the opportunity to join a creative workshop with artist Marina Sossi to explore your own reactions to the painting and to examples of Blake’s works from our collections.  

A limited number of tickets are available for this event.



Need to know


We’ll be in the Reading Room on level 2. You can walk up the spiral staircase to the Reading Room door, or take the lift up and then head left from the Library Desk.

Place not guaranteed

Booking a ticket for a free event does not guarantee you a place. You should aim to arrive 15 minutes before the event is scheduled to start to claim your place. If you do not arrive on time, your place may be given to someone on the waiting list.

Audio described

Key visual elements referred to during this event will be described.

For more information, please visit our Accessibility page. If you have any queries about accessibility, please email us at access@wellcomecollection.org or call 0 2 0. 7 6 1 1. 2 2 2 2

Our event terms and conditions

About your contributors

Head and shoulders photograph of a woman with short grey hair and glasses looking side on at the camera. She is against a flat rural background.

Sibylle Erle


Dr Sibylle Erle is a Visiting Scholar at the University of Lincoln. Her research interests include William Blake, death and monsters. She is the author of ‘Blake, Lavater and Physiognomy’ (2010) and co-editor of ‘The Reception of William Blake in Europe’ (2019). She was co-curator of ‘Blake and Physiognomy’ at Tate Britain, and is a Trustee of The Blake Society.

Black and white photograph of a woman with short blond hair looking straight at the camera.

Marina Sossi


Marina Sossi is a multimedia artist, director and performer based in London. She has toured internationally, facilitated masterclasses and directed performances in theatre, opera and music.