The thing about Shakespeare is this: there’s always something to celebrate.
Next year, there’s an explosion of celebrations surrounding the Bard, under the World Shakespeare Festival umbrella. In London alone, you'll find a variety of Shakespearean celebrations at the Globe, the Barbican, the Almeida, the Roundhouse, and the British Museum to name but a few.
You can also get in on the act early this year, with a short exhibition at the Royal College of Art which celebrates Shakespeare and the Royal Shakespeare Company's 50th birthday, opening later this week.
The exhibition is split into two. The first shows a collection of original lithographs from 1964, made by the RCA Printmaking Department to mark Shakespeare’s quarto-centenary. (Another great thing about all these anniversaries means you can roll out previous work to exhibit alongside the new stuff.) The prints include work by Joe Tilson, Allen Jones, Elizabeth Frink, Norman Ackroyd and Sandra Blow. These 26 prints were originally shown in 1964 at the Mermaid Theatre to commemorate Shakespeare’s birth (in 1564).
The second part of the exhibition features new prints by RCA Printmaking students and staff, plus some invited artists like Bob & Roberta Smith, Adam Dant and Christiana Baumgartner. Students and staff watched rehearsals and performances by the RSC, as well as heading behind the scenes, before making their work. The themes explored range from Shakespeare's use of language, a history of Shakespeare actors, through to the digitisation of the Complete Works.
By showing prints from the archive alongside new work, Folio lets you explore how artistic responses to Shakespeare and the medium of printmaking itself have changed and evolved over the last 50 years.
Like what you see? You can buy the 2011 prints with prices starting at £350 for student work; £550 for staff; and £650 for guest artists (excluding Bob & Roberta Smith's print which is £750), all prices exclude VAT. Proceeds from print sales go towards supporting Printmaking students at the College.