Stan’s Cafe have been working with pupils from University of Birmingham School to reimagine Shakespeare’s stories in Birmingham. The resulting exhibition will see 150 diptychs go on show in the Shakespeare Memorial Library at the Library of Birmingham from 15 February until the end of March 2022.
Shakespeare vs Birmingham is the second in a series of five-community curated exhibitions created as part of the ‘Everything to Everybody’ Project.
Pupils were challenged to re-stage Shakespeare on their doorsteps through photography. They took inspiration from Shakespeare’s plays and then matched their own photographs with some from the amazing collection of 15,000 photographs dating from 1899 and from all over the world that are part of Birmingham’s historic Shakespeare collection. The result is a series of brilliant, often playful diptychs that speak to how Shakespeare relates to the worlds and lives of young people today.
James Yarker, Artistic Director Stan’s Cafe said: “Exploring the photographic archive that is part of the vast Shakespeare collection alongside the pupils from University of Birmingham School has been great fun.
“It been a privilege to be able to access this amazing resource and to see the wealth of images in the collection. Watching how pupils have responded to Shakespeare’s plays with their own photographs has been really interesting and engaging. Finally matching these contemporary images with historic production photographs has given us a fascinating insight into how Shakespeare’s plays have been interpreted over the last hundred years or so. We can’t wait for people to see the new artworks on show in the Shakespeare Memorial Library, I think everyone will really enjoy them.”
The exhibition sees an array of fascinating images from the archive placed alongside new images. One diptych pairs a beautiful photograph of a graveyard featuring flowers and a headstone with a production image from Hamlet in which Shakespeare’s prince considers his own mortality and the passing of time while holding up the skull of Yorick. Another diptych presents a photograph of an embroidered handkerchief alongside an archive image from a production of Othello, whose plot hinges on the manipulation of an embroidered handkerchief which Othello was given by his mother. A third juxtaposition sets an image of a saucepan so big that it could be used as a cauldron against a production photograph of the witches huddled over the cauldron in Macbeth.
Ewan Fernie, ‘Everything to Everybody’ Project Director said: “The photographic collection in the Shakespeare Memorial Library is vast, including amateur and professional photographs from across the world. We are delighted to share the particular pictures which the pupils and students from University of Birmingham School have chosen, and we’re even more excited to exhibit them alongside the new artwork which this great collection has inspired them to produce themselves. The treasure-trove of Birmingham’s secret Shakespeare horde, their own talent and the involvement of the brilliant Stan’s Cafe has made for a great show!”
The ‘Everything to Everybody’ Project is an ambitious celebration of one of the UK’s most important cultural assets: the Birmingham Shakespeare Memorial Library – not just the first great Shakespeare library in the world but also the only great Shakespeare collection which belongs to all the people of a city.
The ‘Everything to Everybody’ Project is a collaboration between the University of Birmingham and Birmingham City Council, with funding contributed by National Lottery Heritage Fund and History West Midlands ‘Everything to Everybody’ will give this uniquely democratic Shakespeare heritage back to people and communities across Birmingham.
To achieve this, ‘Everything to Everybody’ is working in conjunction with anchor institutions and arts organisations such as Stan’s Cafe.
Find out more about this project and others via:
Shakespeare vs Birmingham
15 February until 31 March 2022
Shakespeare Memorial Room, The Library of Birmingham, Centenary Square, Birmingham