For more than 25 years Michael Phillips has researched the materials and methods that William Blake used in producing his illuminated books. An archive of his research and experiments is now part of the Rare Book and Special Collections Division of the Library of Congress in association with the Blake Collection formed by Lessing J. Rosenwald.
Examples of his re-creations of Blake’s relief-etched copper plates and printed impressions are also in the Berg Collection of the New York Public Library, Pierpont Morgan Library, Department of Rare Books, Rush Rhees Library, University of Rochester, Victoria University Library, University of Toronto, the Manuscript, Archives & Rare Book Library of Emory University, The Fondren Library Rice University, Union College Library, University of Glasgow Special Collections, and the British Library, amongst other public and private collections.
Exhibitions of Michael’s replica prints and plates have been held at the Cornell Fine Art Museum, Rollins College, Winter Park, Florida, at the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Art Gallery, College of Holy Cross, Worcester, Massachusetts, and most recently at Gallery 2016 in Omaha, Nebraska, in conjunction with Opera Omaha’s production of the life and work of William and Catherine Blake, Stranger from Paradise, in 2017.
Michael was also guest curator of the major exhibitions of Blake in London and New York at Tate Britain and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2000 and 2001, in Paris at the Petit Palais in 2009, and most recently his acclaimed exhibition and catalogue, William Blake Apprentice & Master at the Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford in 2014-15, that included a full-scale reconstruction of Blake’s printmaking studio and star-wheel rolling press.
Michael taught at Oxford, University College London and Edinburgh University before joining the interdisciplinary Centre for Eighteenth Century Studies at the University of York, where until 2004 he offered a post-graduate MA in English and History of Art entitled “William Blake and the Age of Revolution” and where he is now an Emeritus Fellow. He now lectures and gives Blake printmaking demonstrations internationally.
For his work on Blake he has received awards from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Yale Centre for British Art, British Library Centre for the Book, a British Academy Research Readership in the Humanities, Waynflete Lectureship, Magdalen College, Oxford, and the Medal of the Collège de France.