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The Bard’s Rest

Created by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust’s Artist-in-Residence, Lee Lapthorne

The Bard’s Rest, by Lee Lapthorne

Lee Lapthorne
Lee Lapthorne

The Bard’s Rest is a reinterpretation of a Greaves and Thomas sofa, created by the Trust's Artist-in-Residence, Lee Lapthorne

The piece is currently on display at Hall’s Croft, the beautifully furnished Jacobean home of Shakespeare’s daughter, Susanna, and her physician husband John Hall. It is made from specially-commissioned textiles inspired by objects held within the Trust’s museum, library and archive collections. 

Lee was particularly drawn to a rosette made especially for the David Garrick Shakespeare Jubilee, held in 1769.


The large flowers on the back rest of the sofa are taken from the collection’s Gentlemen’s Nightcap (1601-25) and other textiles pieces, including the Embroidered Jacket (about 1610) which is elaborately decorated with a design of trailing stems and metal sequins, known at the time as ‘spangles’.

‘In researching the archives, I was drawn to works that immediately drew my attention, often because of their strong motifs and textures. These pieces are also evocative and romantic. It felt like plucking pieces from a bygone era rich with traces of their past and previous owners.’

— Lee Lapthorne
Shakespeare's Well Known Characters
Some of Shakespeare’s most well-known characters

Lee wanted to create a modern piece of furniture to juxtapose with the feeling of its setting within Hall's Croft. The rich green textured painting is inspired by Shakespeare’s contemporary, the artist Pierre Soulages, and offers a strong base for the imagery and textures of this piece. Green is often associated with luxury modern pieces of furniture and is a good base on this rare mid-20th-century, British made, Greaves and Thomas sofa bed. 

Some of Shakespeare’s most well-known characters are embedded into the sofa design and are inspired by illustrations or images of actors in performance. The back panel of the sofa also features Shakespeare's coat of arms, his initials and texture inspired by the cover of a version of the Bible by John Speed (1551/2-1629), the English cartographer and historian.

Bard's Rest
The Bard's Rest

Lee Lapthorne has also created another piece called The Love Settle, which is on display at Anne Hathaway’s Cottage.

Lee Lapthorne’s residency at SBT is supported by Arts Council England as part of the charity’s creative and outreach programme to share Shakespeare’s works, life and times with communities. The Bard's Rest will be on display at Hall's Croft until Sunday September 15th.

Follow Lee on Instagram at @leelapthorne #TheBardsRest

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