Things Ancient and Modern

Thursday 6th July. 11.30 AM – ‘A’ Stage, Shepperton Studios. Raleigh tempts the queen with tales of the open ocean – a place she knows she will never see but can imagine in the pages of the books and charts that lie scattered on the floor..

For this scene we find Queen, Raleigh and Bess in the reading and music area of the private chambers set. The art department have dressed this area with floor cushions, replica musical instruments, music and books. Of course finding period books is not easy and many of ours, on closer examination, are 17th and 18th century texts rather than Elizabethan. However the keen eyed viewer might notice that the books open on the floor reflect the queen’s own interest particularly at this time, including works on comparative religion and even a ‘banned’ Spanish text. But perhaps the most interesting thing about the books (and this is also true of the furniture) is that they look like Elizabethan books and furniture look today (i.e. 500 years old). At the time all this would actually have looked new but to the modern eye this reads wrongly – we expect Elizabethan oak to be age-darkened even though it was much lighter then and we imagine Elizabeth books in old warped leather bindings. If we made Elizabeth’s dress look 500 year old however it would clearly be ludicrous – that has to look brand new – so what is it about objects that we require some to look old and some new?

2 thoughts on “Things Ancient and Modern

  1. Justin,
    You cannot recreate these objects? I feel that books from that age was the only real knowledge one could gain on the world besides experiences and conversation. Elizabeth had not travalled as I know beyond her Island as Queen, so all she had to learn from was her people, books and conversations with explorers and adventurers. Books were precious to the aristrocrat and people such as Ralegh had extensive collections of all sorts of books old and new from all over the world in all sorts of languages. I remember reading that on a privateering exploit Raleigh received a large trunk of Spanish books and he wrote highly of them. When Raleigh was executed K.James tried taking his collection of books for his own private collection, but Bess worked hard to prevented this action, for in Raleigh’s will they belonged to Carew. Like in our personal libraries we have old and new books, so I feel it is important to show both old and new objects for antiques have existed in every age. I don’t think people will notice the small details in objects though. Anyways I am ranting of topic, good question JP.

  2. Things
    Tales of the open ocean
    a place in the pages of the books
    that lie scattered on the floor
    The reading and music area…the art department
    finding is not easy
    the keen eyed viewer might notice
    the most interesting thing
    is that they look
    much lighter than we imagine
    what is it about objects?

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