The first audio/visual installation by Infinite Nothing’s Theatre, From The Heart, was held in the Sheffield Institute of Arts on Tuesday 26th March. The installation exhibited work from five local artists who were given the challenge to create a piece of work in response to a Shakespeare sonnet of their choice. The artists included; Sarah Rose, Shaun Standrin, Zoe Cope, Ellie Massey and myself. This installation follows a successful 2-date performance of Bloodlines: Macbeth which was held at the Performance Lab in Sheffield last month.
A variety of work was shown during From The Heart, including a short performance of Act 1 Scene 5 from Romeo & Juliet; performed by Infinite Nothing’s co-founder Elisabeth Marriott and Sheffield Hallam’s final year performance student Jack Hallam. Performance Practice student and Bloodlines: Macbeth director Zoe Cope performed a durational piece of live art for the installation. During the installation Zoe created a flower using clay over the course of the installation inspired by Sonnet 60.
Sheffield based bookmaker, embroiderer and visual communicator Ellie Massey exhibited six hand-made embroidery piece’s inspired by Sonnet 148 while Blue Alien’s Sarah Rose presented a piece of digital art inspired by Sonnet 64. All the work included was received with a warm response.
I exhibited an installation titled No More Dying, consisting of a 3-minute short film and 42 photographs. I was invited to exhibit for From The Heart last summer and began to look through Shakespeare’s sonnets and find one that stood out to me in particular. As a contemporary actor/artist, I have avoided the works of Shakespeare due to the fact that I often find it difficult to decipher and/or speak the language. Working on From The Heart allowed me to interpret Shakespeare’s work through the lens of my practice, engaging with the work in a way I haven’t before. I decided to select Sonnet 146; struck with the instant negativity within the first two words. How ‘Poor Soul’ is followed by Shakespeare’s questions about materialism and priority whilst arguing that we all may die the same way whilst living completely differently. I was instantly struck by the mental image of an angel transitioning to the afterlife. How the decisions that made her happy during life could taint her death. This is where No More Dying began.
I stayed very close to my initial idea and decided to creatively communicate the different states of life and death through the use of signifiers. Within the narrative of the short film, the angel surrounds herself with riches and takes part in debauches acts in order to validate herself. However, death begins to claim her, stripping her of all materialistic dependencies until she is reduced to just her soul like everybody else. Myself and Zoe Cope began the photography and videography for the project in September 2018. For the photography aspect of the project, I was keen to create a set of photographs which, once laid out, could enable the audience to take unique responses to the work. Once the photographs had arrived, myself and Zoe spent hours re-arranging the photographs so that each row, column and diagonal had a narrative.
On the day of From The Heart, we spent the afternoon setting up for a 4pm start. I had a few technical difficulties with the big screen in the venue, but this was resolved fairly quickly. Excited to debut my work, I was constantly nit-picking at the photographs on the table just to make sure it looked exactly how I wanted! I was extremely happy with how the installation went, especially as it was Infinite Nothing’s first of this kind, and was also very pleased with how No More Dying was received by its audience.
I look forward to working with Infinite Nothings Theatre again in the future and look forward to continuing my MA, but most of all I’m excited to continue creating more my own work! To see more of my work find me on Instagram ‘@_barkby’.