“With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come.” 

Bankside marks Shakespeare Globe’s 25th Anniversary with a special art trail of famous quotes  

To mark the 25th anniversary of Shakespeare’s Globe this year, Better Bankside has created an immersive art trail, to bring the Great Bard’s voice back to Southwark, one of his favourite haunts. 

Nestled around the Bankside area, 25 Shakespeare quotes have been chosen to illustrate the ways in which Shakespeare’s 400-year-old words continue to resonate, excite and inspire the artists and creative practitioners of today. With works of photography and illustration, textile and graphic design, sound and light-based projections alongside street art and installations by students of Borough Academy, the trail aims to bring to life the playwright’s works through a variety of mesmerising media.  

The trail has been curated and installed by Better Bankside, Aida Esposito and Jack Arts, in partnership with a myriad of artists, Shakespeare’s Globe, year 8 pupils from Borough Academy, Art Academy, Bankside Gallery, Rose Theatre, Bankside Open Spaces Trust, WPP, Fabrix, Knowlemore and a number of local businesses. 

Just as in Shakespeare’s time, the words and sentiments will be reinterpreted for the trail through a new prism, for contemporary times.  

Shakespeare’s ode to love ‘Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day’ is re-interpreted as a commentary on our increasingly fragile planet and the climate emergency by artist Kristina Chan, whilst Attzs’ declaration of universal love is a timely reminder that ‘love is love’, no matter who you are. Australian artist Tomboy Bill’s haunting ‘My Kingdom For A Horse’, brings to life the childhood monsters under our proverbial bed, as Macbeth is interpreted by Layla Andrews who makes literal Macbeth’s imagined scorpions in a billboard campaign while a translation of the Thane of Glamis’ words into the ‘endangered language’ of Polari will light up the railway arches of Southwark Bridge.  

The artworks will start appearing from this week with all 25 quotes due to be in place by mid-July. and those visiting the trail before 16 July will be invited to work with participatory community artist Alice Clarke and join her in adding a final quote to the trail. 

The self-guided trail is free of charge and will be running throughout the summer, until late September, starting and ending at the iconic London theatre.  

Nicole Gordon, CEO of Better Bankside, said: “The anniversary of Shakespeare’s Globe presents the perfect opportunity to reflect on Bankside’s contribution to history and literature. While many people associate Shakespeare to his birthplace of Stratford-Upon-Avon, he actually lived in our neighbourhood for many years, and opened the original Globe Theatre himself – where his first plays were performed. So it is with great pleasure that we can celebrate his works this way, on the very spot that many of these quotes will have been originally written, more than 400 years ago.” 

In the 17th century, Bankside was renowned for its raucous theatres and debaucheries. It is said that the many rowdy inns, ‘stews’, brothels, gambling dens and theatres found in the area influenced not only Shakespeare’s productions, but continued to inspire other literary giants such as Dickens and Chaucer. In fact, the first theatre to be built in the area was The Rose in 1587, which was soon followed by Swan Theatre in 1599 and the original Globe Theatre, also in 1599.    

The Globe theatre that you see today is a third time charm. It was Shakespeare and his associates who opened the original Globe Theatre in 1599, but this burned down in 1613 during a performance of Henry VIII, where some small prop-cannons were fired and a piece of burning wadding set fire to the thatch! It was rebuilt in a year – with a tiled roof instead of thatch but was closed by Parliament in 1642 and later demolished in 1644.  

In 1971, American-born actor Sam Wanamaker started campaigning for the Globe Theatre to be reinstated. It later took 23 years of planning, funding and construction before the Shakespeare Globe you see today, finally reopened in June 1997. The structure echoes the original theatre’s traditionalism with green oak timber and lime plaster construction and its thatched roof is the first and only in London to be granted planning permission since the Great Fire of London in 1666.   

Today in Bankside, visitors can see the surviving traces of some of the iconic historical playhouses including The Rose, The Swan and The Globe – some of which can be spotted along the 25th Anniversary art trail.  

To find out more about the trail and the 25th Anniversary of Shakespeare’s Globe, visit: https://banksidelondon.co.uk/events/shakespeare/