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Shakespeare’s Birthplace Welcomes New Artists-In-Residence as its First Ever Co-Curated Exhibition Launches

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A first for the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust (SBT), the co-curated display introduces the diverse and dynamic voices of five young artists as they bring fresh perspectives to the life, work and times of the world’s most famous writer, William Shakespeare.

The co-curated exhibition, exploring power and injustice, will take over two display cases in the SBT’s Famous Beyond Words collection in Shakespeare’s Birthplace on Henley Street from 30 August.

Developed by The GAP, a young people’s arts organisation in Balsall Health, Birmingham, and the curatorial team at the SBT, the new display invites audiences to question ways that their knowledge is controlled today. Why do we believe the things we do and how do the people in power abuse their position?

‘’We are committed to making our spaces inclusive and accessible to all. To achieve this, it is crucial for us to strengthen our partnerships with organisations like The GAP, helping us to forge connections and collaborate with new artists from diverse backgrounds.

‘’For our first ever co-curated exhibition, selecting artists from different backgrounds and empowering them to shape its direction and theme, allowing visitors to view our collection through their lens, was incredibly important and key for us.’’

Commented Jennifer Shufflebotham, creative programme manager at the SBT, an independent charity that cares for the family homes of Shakespeare and is a centre for global learning.

The displays and new interpretations have been developed by Birmingham-based artists Hafsa Chugtai, Robbie Dalal, Arron Gill, Farah Hanif and Rumbidzai Savanhu, and represents a radical initiative that brings diverse voices to the heart of the Famous Beyond Words exhibition and the traditional narratives it presents, creating a more inclusive experience for visitors from across the world.

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Co-Curating an Inclusive Experience

During phase one of the project, the five young artists explored the SBT’s collections and archive, drawing inspiration from conversations with the collections team and the objects themselves.

In phase two, the artists were handed curatorial control and selected objects that sparked conversations about power, control, and knowledge. Guided by personal feelings and perspectives, the artists then re-interpreted the meaning of the objects.

This innovative approach, a first for the team at the SBT, who also care for the other Shakespeare family homes in and around Stratford-upon-Avon, invited the artists to showcase diverse narratives within the existing exhibition spaces and offered a fresh perspective on its collection. Within the space, visitors can now experience the SBT’s collections through the perspective and interpretation of The GAP.

The first display includes objects that express innovative views on medicine and witchcraft. The items, which include a cauldron, drug jars, and a wooden stool, allowed the artists to reflect on the shift away from the housewife managing the household's health in the 1500s towards the regulation of medicines we have today.

The second case exhibits items illustrating the artists' perception of the use of power within Stratford-upon-Avon during Shakespeare's lifetime. This power was wielded by both Church and Crown. Objects displayed include a print of medieval wall frescoes, a seal matrix, and a bishop's ring.

“It’s been fascinating seeing how the artists have interpreted the items from our collection, as well as sharing stories both personal to them and those not told before.

‘’Handing over curatorial control to the artists is an extremely exciting first for our team. It marks the beginning of a more participatory practice and allows us to begin democratising power within our spaces.’’

Commented Paul Taylor, head of Curatorial and Museum Services at the SBT.

“Bringing young and diverse artists from inner city Birmingham together with established, heritage sector professionals in Stratford-upon-Avon, in order to explore power, knowledge and fear in both Shakespeare’s times and in our own, this project has offered a really rich and rare learning opportunity for all involved.

‘’We hope visitors experience it as a fresh and relevant perspective on the SBT's vast collection, and an exciting dimension to the Famous Beyond Words exhibition.”

Added Ceri Townsend, director of The GAP Arts Project.

The GAP Artist-in-Residence exhibition at Shakespeare’s Birthplace is on display now and is included in admission. For more information and to book online please visit