A Shakespeare Connected exhibition in collaboration with Sophie Cope, University of Birmingham.
Time was everywhere in Shakespeare’s England. References to its passage abounded in the constant chiming of bells, the carving of momentous dates into furniture, or the calendars pored over in the period’s most popular books, almanacs. Protestant teaching emphasised an awareness of the fleeting nature of one’s own time on Earth and the importance of not wasting it in idleness. This sensitivity to time’s flight and one’s own mortality was undoubtedly furthered by the temporal references found in all areas of everyday life. Yet time was not necessarily oppressive. Dates were inscribed into objects to celebrate a whole range of extraordinary events, like births or marriages, and could be used to extend the watchful presence of their original owner even after death. Meanwhile astrology was widely used to give specific dates a higher celestial power. This exhibition explores some of the ways in which people would have encountered time in early modern England, and how they used their objects to reflect upon and, most importantly, record their own position within it for all of eternity.
With thanks to the Museums and Universities Partnership Initiative (an Arts Council funded project).