"Look here upon this picture, and on this ..."
Shakespeare - Hamlet Act III, Scene IV
There is plenty to look upon at the Percy Thomson Gallery this month, and they aren't there to make you feel guilty about your marital choices (as per Hamlet's above words to his mother Gertrude).
The Shakespeare - Experience the Bard exhibition opened on Friday in time to celebrate all things Shakespearean for the 2022 Stratford Shakespeare Festival.
While this year's festival, organised by the Stratford Shakespeare Trust, has had to be scaled back substantially due to the current "plague conditions", the exhibition is a great way to set the stage for a bigger festival next year, says trust secretary Jo Stallard.
Percy Thomson Gallery director Laura Campbell says the gallery was happy to sponsor the exhibition as a way to help the central Taranaki community. She says the wide range of exhibits on show will appeal to a wide range of visitors.
"There's a lot of variety, it's not all one type of art medium, so there is a lot to explore in the exhibition."
Stratford Shakespeare Trust committee member Suzanne Blackwell says the exhibition gives people an opportunity to experience different aspects of Shakespeare's life and works.
"We have costumes on display, some of which have been loaned to us by the Shakespeare Globe Centre New Zealand. They are all on mannequins so people can really see how they would look on actors on the stage. Then we have two pieces of art from the Stratford Village Quilters group, some beautiful artwork from New Plymouth artist Fern Petrie as well as some 3D silhouettes by local artist Dimphy de Vaan."
Visitors to the exhibition can also see the Black and White Shadow Noir and Silhouette Photography competition entries on display, and a mixed media photo essay by Charlotte Lobb showing Stratford's street names and their connection to Shakespeare.
Chairs are strategically placed in front of a large photographic image of England's Globe Theatre, giving visitors the chance to sit and picture themselves in the audience of a performance of one of Shakespeare's plays.
Suzanne says she hopes people will take the time to enjoy the exhibition and to reflect on the continuing influence Shakespeare has on the world today.
"Shakespeare has been part of our town since 1897. This exhibition is about reminding people Shakespeare isn't just something we learn about in a classroom, but rather experience daily, we use words and phrases created by him in our daily language, and there are references to him all over Stratford."
Just a few metres outside the gallery, there are some extra references to Shakespeare and his work, with some sproftacchel (picture cutout boards) allowing people to make themselves the star of some moments from A Midsummer Night's Dream on display in Prospero Place for the month as part of the trust's celebration of Shakespeare.
What: Shakespeare celebrations
Where: Stratford, New Zealand
When: April 2022
More details: See the Stratford Shakespeare Trust Facebook page
What: Shakespeare - Experience the bard - an exhibition
Where: Percy Thomson Gallery, Stratford
When: Now until April 24