Welcome to the Shakespearean Menagerie!

2015-12-24 11:16:39 24.Dec.2015


Animal metaphors exist heavily through Shakespeare's writing. From cats and mice to tigers and elephants, Shakespeare uses animals as a powerful tool for creating imagery to help define his characters.

Less subtly in A Midsummer Night's Dream, Nick Bottom's head is transformed into that of a donkey, not only to make him the "ass" of the play, but also to reflect on the theme of juxtaposing identities.

To mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death, illustration students from the University of Portsmouth are taking part in a project, which will aim to reflect Shakespeare's animals through the power of visual language.

Earlier this year, the students partook in an Illustrated Menagerie exhibition with the help of artist My Dog Sighs who inspired them with up-cycled art made from materials that some would describe as "rubbish" (scruffy cow patch chairs and bears on planks of wood), from this the students successfully (perhaps an understatement) created a collection of animal inspired art for their Methodology project.

This year's Shakespeare menagerie project is still in the early stages of development but plans are in motion to create a large scroll with around forty pieces of art created by the students on it.

This will give the students a chance to experiment with their artistic freedom whilst researching literature from one of the most influential English poets of all time.

There will be an emphasis within the art pieces on the physiological, cultural and scientific aspects of each animal.

Shakespeare's possible intentions and historical mythology will also be illustrated through the images meaning each and every image will have a different interpretation incorporated within it, making every image unique and different. All of this combined is making us very excited!

The students will start to research the animals from Shakespeare's literature from the 4th of January and will begin to question the identities of their chosen animals, the location of the final project is still to be confirmed.

We can clearly see the passion and motivation within the students who are involved in the project, so there is no doubt the final outcome will be a great success and a great depiction of the animals within Shakespeare's writing.

Event listing: The Shakespearean Menagerie

Related stories: The Shakespearean Menagerie's No Sinking Ship: Guildhall Exhibition Confirmed! (20/02/2016)

Linked blog: Shakespearean Menagerie (Illustrated Menagerie)

- Hannah Sperring