Category Archives: Art History

Shakespeare Illuminated

Even though the works of William Shakespeare are easily found in books and taught in English classes, his plays are primarily meant to be interpreted through performance. Since they originated in a day when the recording of performances was impossible, there is no record to indicate what messages Shakespeare’s plays were originally intended to convey. Because of this, it has become a rewarding exercise for artists of every kind to create their own interpretations of Shakespeare’s works, combining what is known of the playwright and the world in which he lived with modern-day sensibilities. My own interpretation of Shakespeare and a handful of his plays entitled, Shakespeare Illuminated (see figure 1), combines my interest in ancient illuminated manuscripts like The Book of Kells, and what the plays mean to me.

Figure 1 – Shakespeare Illuminated, by Dennis West

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Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day?

I’ve received permission from Bryan Ferry to animate to his musical version of Shakespeare’s 18th Sonnet. Here is a completed bit where I’ve worked out some of the processes and look for the thing. So far I’m happy with how it’s coming along.

Click here to view in HD.

The drawings and animations were created in Adobe Illustrator and Flash. It was all composited together in After Effects.

Ultimately, I want this to look like it’s actual ink and paint on paper that’s animated. I’d call the drawing style Book of Kells influenced.

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The Book of Kells

The story of the Book of Kells is as interesting, and in many ways, as aloof as the swirling ornamentations and illuminations in the book itself. Its history can be traced back to an Irish Nobleman named Columba, who it is said to have relinquished his hereditary right to the Kingship of Ireland in favor of devoting himself to the spread of Christianity. Perhaps his greatest achievement is the conversion of the Scottish Pict people on the small island of Iona off the coast of Scotland where he afterwards founded a monastery in about 565 A.D. (Sullivan, 3). Continue reading “The Book of Kells” »

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