A wandering place: Grace Hailstone on designing the Bankside Banner

  The artist shares inspirations and processes behind her new artwork, which now sits as part of the Thames landscape

2 minute read

The completed artwork as part of our Bankside Banner.

When considering the quote ‘I like this place and willingly could waste my time in it’ from Shakespeare’s As You Like It, my first thoughts were of Bankside itself.

For much of my life I have lived in London and I have always considered Bankside as a wandering place; not to get from A to B, but to meander and to enjoy with no purpose. It’s a place where you can take in the ever-changing skyline of London and enjoy its many cultural highlights along the way, the Globe of course, being one of them.

Beginning to carve out the engraving.

The finished wooden engraving.

I chose to make a wood engraving because it is an art form which has been used to illustrate books for hundreds of years, and would have been practiced in Shakespeare’s time. I found this evocative and it created a connection to Shakespeare’s words for me.

To make a wood engraving, an image is carved into a fine, end grain wood block with sharp engraving tools. Ink is then rolled on to the block in a thin layer, and a print is taken by putting pressure on the back of the paper on to the block. This can be done by hand burnishing or with a relief press.

Drying the ink prints.

‘I like this place and willingly could waste my time in it’

As well as the quote from As You Like It, another source of inspiration for this commission is Giorgione’s oil painting The Tempest from c.1508 which sits in the Galleria dell’Accademia in Venice. Although an ambiguous scene, the key to the composition is a bridge that is painted between two figures in the foreground. I wondered whether Shakespeare could have seen a print of this painting in his lifetime.

Thinking back to the Thames and Bankside landscape, in my artwork I have incorporated the Globe’s logo itself as a bridge between the past and the present across the river. The figure on the left represents experiencing the past, while looking across to the imaginary present day landscape. This, I felt, was symbolic of the Globe’s work and the experience we have of the past in the present when visiting the Globe.

Giorgione, The Tempest, c. 1508.