In the newly refurbished Swan Wing of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Stratford-upon-Avon Theater, 2,000 stainless steel stars are individually suspended from the ceiling, carefully layered to convey a glimmering human face. The ten-foot-tall display is the work of designer Steven Follen, who used digital models to map the precise placement of each star that he strung by hand, marrying modern technology with traditional craftsmanship. It is both his largest commission and the Company’s largest permanent art piece to date.
The colossal construction was revealed on April 23rd to mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. Its title, For All Time, references a quote from Ben Jonson’s eulogy for the beloved bard: “He was not of an age, but for all time!” Visually, the installation alludes to a memorable line in Act III, Scene II of Romeo and Juliet, when the heroine says, “When he shall die, take him and cut him out in little stars, and he will make the face of heaven so fine.”
That’s what Follen has done for Shakespeare with this dazzling opus, placing a permanent celestial portrait within a space whose lofty windows, vaulted ceilings, and balustrades evoke a skyward paradise. Follen hopes to inspire viewers to interact with the multidimensional piece from a variety of angles and perspectives, prompting musings about the themes of time and astral destiny that are threaded through so many of Shakespeare’s ever-enduring plays and sonnets.
All images via Andrew Fox.