The Shakespeare Centre is decorated with a series of well known Shakespearian characters engraved in glass, overlooking the Birthplace garden. Created by artist John Hutton (who also worked on the huge West Window of Coventry Cathedral) especially for the Centre in the early 1960s, they are not labelled - the idea being that the visual design, pose, emotional expression, and body language of each will help convey who they are.
Who am I? Can you name each glass Shakespearian character? Answers are at the end of the blog!
Hutton designed and engraved the life-size figures in just 14 months, beginning in January 1963 and finishing them in spring 1964. Nineteen characters were initially suggested and from those he chose the ones he felt a creative resonance with, picking a key emotional moment to portray.
He sketched his designs in chalk on black paper and developed his own methods of engraving to capture the look of each one, giving them the graininess and shading of the original chalk drawings. The whole effect is to make them very tactile, and you want to touch the glass. Among the tools he used for this were a drill, a grinding wheel, a selection of stone wheels, and emery paper or felt for polishing and giving depth.
The way the light plays on the glass seems to give the figures a life of their own, and their expressions even appear to change when you look at them from different parts of the room, at different times of day, in sunshine or showers.
Answers: A is Richard III, B is Bottom, C and D are Antony and Cleopatra, and E is Falstaff.