This is my latest collage piece, made from a play script of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. There’s something dreadfully transgressive about ripping up books, but that adds to the artistry of it! (NB: No actual books were harmed in the production of this artwork, and I’m even thinking in adding some wood frames to it, that I can even build myself with the right wood tools that are easy to get, and anyone can learn more at woodworkingtoolkit.com. The play script had led a long and happy life, having been used in several productions, before dying naturally and being saved from the recycling bin. Which slightly undermines the transgressivity involved, but we have to start transgressing somewhere.)
This is a very personal response to the play, almost the ultimate expression of the auteur principle possible without a proper theatre. I can choose to foreground some issues, place characters in their proper place, and generally take absurd liberties with the text—in other words, just what any director would do given complete freedom. At the same time, the form imposes some interesting constraints. I didn’t allow myself to add anything to it, and everything placed on the canvas (the backing material is a standard 40x40cm gallery canvas) had to be cut from flat paper. And because rules are there to be broken, the detailing on the rose is drawn by hand in ink.
This is one of the first work-in-progress pictures I took, showing the final placement of text scraps without a frame. The sides of the canvas (30mm deep) I painted flat black, to evoke theatre flats, and the varnish on the face is deliberately matte—this play has had enough gloss put on it in the past without my adding any more!
This is the first Shakespeare collage I’ve done, so I’m not sure which features of this one are going to be general and which are play-specific. Dream is an intensely theatrical play, and not only because of the play-within-a-play performed by the mechanicals. Admittedly, there’s a certain amount of that always present in theatre, because actors sicken, pine, and get grumpy if they don’t get the opportunity to play someone who can’t act every so often. Writing about it, I’m already thinking of three different versions I could do, but I’d rather work on another play first.