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Resident Artists
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Over spring and summer 2022 the three resident artists have been working with The GAP exploring the themes of The Other-Wise Project

and making new work in response. Each also completed a mini-residency at The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

where they produced work inspired by Shakespeare's childhood and family life.

Robbie Dalal

Shakespeare Birthplace Trust Residency

My aim during the residency was to create a participatory experience that encouraged play. After spending time exploring the Shakespeare Birthplace Trusts collection, I found inspiration for his work in the artistic representations of characters in William Shakespeare’s plays. I was inspired by the costume designs of Ralph Koltai and Salvador Dali. I was also inspired by the work of John Hutton – who created the etched glass in the doorway of this room.

After seeing a pack of playing cards in the archives, I decided to create and illustrated card game that could act as a playful tool for learning. I took inspiration from the dynamic illustrative style employed by Koltai, then developed the designs further utilising digital tools. The illustrations have a surreal style, partially inspired by the designs of Salvador Dali in the Shakespeare’s Birthplace Collection. The cards nod to the holographic elements present in card games like Pokemon. The format of the card games is similar to ‘Top Trumps’ a game that swept the playgrounds during my childhood.

I learnt best at school – and beyond – through play. I hope the participants playing the games will enjoy learning about these Shakespeare characters in a playful way. 


Rumbidzai Savanhu

Shakespeare Birthplace Trust Residency

Titled 'Little Wonderer', this series of three illustrations explores imagination, nature and childhood wonder...

IMAGINATION - Inspired by Shakespeare’s A Midsummer’s Night Dream, Studio Ghibli and CS Lewis’s Alice in Wonderland, I wanted to create a series of illustrations on the theme of imagination and the way that children view the world. Playing on the words ‘wandering’ and ‘wondering’ I wanted to create a story of a little child discovering a new world and playing. Often as we grow, we tend to forget about that inner child who wants to make up stories. The inner child that asks the important questions. What if little creatures stole my socks for blankets in the winter? What if those branches in the park were a portal to a fairy world? What if my dreams were a reality? Is this world real? Is it make believe? Does it matter?

NATURE - The first thing that I drew inspiration from was the flora and fauna of The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, whether it was the flowers from the birthplace, the curated gardens of New Place and Anne Hathaway’s cottage, or the illustrations of creatures in the SBT collection. It made me wonder - what would a storyteller like Shakespeare have dreamed about as a child? Would he have been told stories before he went to bed? Would he have had imaginary friends or found secret hiding places to invent stories when he was young? That is where I began when looking at the archive and collections to spark my own imagination.
Looking through bestiaries and finding illustrations of rhinos alongside unicorns, I realised that back then the idea of the existence of a unicorn was just as plausible as a rhino. If shown to someone that had never seen either, or would possibly never get to, they would believe it to be true. This idea of what is real and what is make believe stuck with me when I started sketching and thinking of my idea.


A Space to Dream


Hassan Rahmani

Shakespeare Birthplace Trust Residency


SILK - At the Birthplace trust you can Mulberry tree in Shakespeare’s garden. Shakespeare was a keen businessman and planted Mulberries hoping to manufacture silk and establish a luxury silk industry in England. Unfortunately, the Black Mulberry he planted is not to the liking of the silk-worm, and the preferred White Mulberry did not grow well in the temperate English climate.

Silk was originally developed by the ancient Chinese, and was later brought West by travelling traders and merchants, passing through Afghanistan and other Asian countries, along what became known as the Silk Road.

STORIES - As well as raw materials such as silk and accompanying manufacturing techniques, new ideas, philosophies and stories also travelled from East to West along the Silk Road. One such story, Laila and Majnun, dates back to the 7th century. Passed on orally through the generations, it was eventually written down and popularised by Sunni Muslim poet, Nazami Ganjavi, five hundred years later. It is a tragic story of forbidden young love, and has many similarities to Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet story. Could this story have reached Shakespeare’s ears in the 17th century?

KITES - In 2015, I also migrated from East to West, from Afghanistan to England where I settled in Birmingham. My kites are based on the craft I learned and loved as a child in the mountains surrounding his home city of Mazar-i-Sharif, and are inspired by the way silk and stories from my home region have travelled here before, and may have influenced Shakespeare in his life and work.


A Space to Dream takes from the idea of creating a curriculum for living, one in which there are no prescribed lesson plans, but a recognition of the ways these subjects can intersect. A school which would prepare young people for life, sparking curiosity, empathy, strength and love, where people can be agents in their own change, growth and learning.


The colours are taken from the space that the Culture Collective and young people designed for the summer school, with each room filled with an illustration covering a different topic that I think is important. The letters of the alphabet are left to the viewer's interpretation - there are no wrong answers.


For this piece wanted to create a school inspired by my time at The GAP using the themes and experiences from the Culture Collective, the Other-Wise Summer School, GAP training days, the Youth Theatre, the mini-residency at The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, and to all the people I have met and had the honour to talk to and learn from.

This is my journey and my thank you.

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