Six questions with the Curator of Shakespeare in Art

Six questions with the Curator of Shakespeare in Art

Antonia is one of our experienced exhibition curators and has been responsible for some of the most successful exhibitions in recent years, for example the Arts & Crafts House: Then and Now exhibition from 2015. She was lead curator on the Shakespeare in Art project which means that, working with other members of the team, she researched the works of art, shaped the exhibition, decided on the hang (what artworks went where), wrote the interpretation, liaised with the RSC and worked with our internal teams (front of house, learning and marketing) to develop their plans for the show.

 1. Tell us why you’re doing this exhibition now?

2016 is the 400th anniversary of the death of Shakespeare (coincidentally, Shakespeare died on the same day that he was born, the 23rd April) and we felt that this was a good moment to produce a brand new art exhibition related to his work, and to join in the national celebrations of his achievements.

 2. How did the collaboration with the RSC come about?

The collaboration came about around three years ago when our Director, Dr Steven Parissien met with Gregory Doran, now the Artistic Director of the RSC, to talk about the possibility or working in partnership on a project that would include art work from the RSC’s collections. It took us some time to find the right focus for the show, as we needed to find an interesting angle on Shakespeare-related art, and also to be sure that we could find and borrow enough art from around the country to make a compelling exhibition for our visitors.

 3. What is your favourite work in the show and why?

It would have to be the works by theatre designer Edward Gordon Craig, for their pared back simplicity and emotional impact.  Craig was pushing at the boundaries of theatre design and his woodcuts are ahead of their time.

Edward Gordon Craig, Theatre Set Design

Edward Gordon Craig

 4. Do you have a favourite Shakespeare play or quote?

My favourite play is King Lear

My favourite quote, although it might be a cliché:

All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages.

5. What Artists can we see in the show?

You can see (and hear!) a huge variety dating from the 1800s right through to now.  The most recent work is a photograph by Tom Hunter, who just this February created an image of Ophelia drowning (an event from Hamlet) in the lake of Compton Verney. Historical artists include the wonderful Henry Fuseli, once called ‘the Shakespeare of the canvas’, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, John Singer Sargent and GF Watts. Living artists include Kristin & Davey McGuire who have produced a haunting holographic film of Ophelia, and sound pieces by the Kate Tempest and the actor Rufus Hound.

6. Without giving too much away, what can a visitor expect to see in this show?

The visitor will experience a theatrical journey through a series of environments which take them to the heart of some of the most highly charged moments of Shakespeare’s plays. There is humour and fun in the way the exhibition has been staged. Something for everyone of all ages, and you don’t need to be a Shakespeare aficionado to enjoy it!

Ophelia’s Ghost © Kristin and Davy McGuire, photograph by Electric Egg

Ophelia’s Ghost © Kristin and Davy McGuire, photograph by Electric Egg


Got any more questions for our curator Antonia? Get in touch by emailing us at, alternatively, tweet or facebook us your questions.

The Shakespeare in Art exhibition is open until Sunday 19 June, book your tickets online.