Steven was commissioned by the RSC to create its largest site-specific artwork to date. The piece, called For all time, formed part of the 400th anniversary celebrations of Shakespeare. Current 3D students from the University of Brighton helped create the artwork which comprised 2,000 metal stars, each hand-folded and hung from the ceiling to create the form of a three-metre tall human face.
Steven’s contemporary artwork is a highlight of the restored Grade II listed Swan Wing in Stratford-upon-Avon. The three-dimensional artwork possesses an ethereal quality, reflecting light and moving gently in the air. The face will be surrounded by further metal stars, which will loosely reflect the position of the constellations on Shakespeare’s birthday.
For all time is inspired in particular from Romeo and Juliet, Act III Scene II, where Juliet speaks of her star-cross’d lover Romeo, “When he shall die, take him and cut him out in little stars, and he will make the face of heaven so fine…”. The title, For all time, is a quote from Ben Jonson’s eulogy to Shakespeare: “He was not of an age, but for all time!”
This significant new artwork complements the Swan Wing’s sensitively restored public spaces. A new café bar will be filled with objects and stories from the RSC’s extensive archive, and visitors can admire the original stained glass windows lining the Swan Wing staircase that illustrate the Seven Ages of Man speech from Shakespeare’s As You Like It. The Swan Wing’s brickwork, lead windows, and roof ‘lights’ have been restored, alongside three exterior bas reliefs by Paul Kummer, which depict Shakespeare’s Comedies, Histories and Tragedies.
For all time is the RSC’s largest permanent site-specific artwork commission and also Steven Follen’s largest commission to date. Its construction is an engineering challenge: the 2,000 stars will be fabricated from sheet stainless steel, etched and then hand-folded to create a three-dimensional shape. The stars must then be fixed on stainless-steel micro cables up to three metres long and hung from a grid on the ceiling to precise mathematical formulas in order to achieve the desired effect.
Further inspiration for the artwork came from existing architectural styling found in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and the Swan Wing; an amalgam of Victorian Gothic, 1930s Art Deco and 21st century industrial design in which metal features prominently.
The Swan Wing public spaces, including For all time, opened to the public on Shakespeare’s birthday, 23 April 2016. A major new visitor attraction telling the story of the making of Shakespeare’s plays, The Play’s The Thing, will open in autumn 2016.