400 years ago, in 1623, the first collected works of Shakespeare were published under the title Mr William Shakespeare’s Comedies, Histories & Tragedies. This impressive book – prepared after Shakespeare’s death in 1616 by his former acting colleagues John Heminge and Henry Condell – ran to over 900 pages and contained 36 plays by Shakespeare, 18 of which had not been printed before.
Among the latter were such influential works as Macbeth, The Tempest, Julius Caesar, Antony and Cleopatra and As You Like It. Without the publication of the First Folio these extraordinary plays and more may have never appeared in print and achieved their powerful global impact.
In celebration of the 400th anniversary, this new exhibition – Shakespeare Beyond All Limits – displays books from Rare Books & Special Collections associated with Shakespeare’s First Folio and 3D-printed sculptures of Shakespeare and his characters by artist Simon Fieldhouse. The exhibition illustrates the historical origins of the Folio text and gives examples of how the plays have been interpreted over time through to the present.
During the COVID-19 lockdowns of 2020, staff at the Fisher library made a remarkable discovery. References were found in an old catalogue entry to some loose leaves from a First Folio.Huw Griffiths
These Shakespeare sculptures are 3D resin prints. Each sculpture is created on a computer after the preliminary pencil drawings and ideas have been formulated. The programmes primarily used to create the sculptures are Blender and Z-Brush and then post processed and printed with Chitubox and an Anycubic Mono Photon X 3D printer. The prints are produced in a monotone grey resin colour and then hand painted with acrylic paint and finished with airbrushing.
It took nearly 18 months to learn to use the necessary computer programming and there was much trial and error.Simon Fieldhouse
The exhibition was curated by Liam Semler (Professor of Early Modern Literature) and Huw Griffiths (Associate Professor of English Literature), in collaboration with Emily Kang (Rare Books & Special Collections Liaison Librarian, East Asian Collection).
The exhibition covers nine topics including folios, quatros and loose leaves; a closer look at The Life and Death of Julius Caesar and Hamlet, the trope of the tortured tyrant; and Shakespeare and popular culture.
The exhibition will also complement the Australian and New Zealand Shakespeare Association conference that will be held at the University of Sydney from 7-9 December 2023 and is also titled Shakespeare beyond all limits.
… Shakespeare was a man of his time and his unconscious values and cultural biases, which are reflected in his works, complicate and problematise his global reception nowadays.Liam Semler