National Portrait Gallery Takes Visitors Behind the Scenes of ELIZABETHAN ENGLAND Today
Visitors to the National Portrait Gallery today 25 October will have the chance to experience Elizabethan England as actors perform a unique catwalk show whilst descending the Gallery's two-storey-high escalator. The fashion show will form part of a one-off evening filled with music, performance, talks and workshops inspired by the revelatory exhibition Elizabeth I & Her People.
Presented in partnership with the School of Historical Dress and part of the Gallery's series of late openings, The Elizabethans Undressed will explore the culture of this fascinating period, from music and fashion to cosmetics and poetry.
On the night, visitors will be invited behind the scenes to observe the ritual of Elizabethan dressing and undressing as actors are fitted with outfits that have been meticulously hand-sewn and re-created by costume designer and Principal of the School of Historical Dress, Jenny Tiramani, and her team of experts. Jenny is a specialist in her field and her research into historical costume has included looking at the outfits worn in paintings in the National Portrait Gallery's Collection.
An intimate performance of Elizabethan poet John Donne's Elegy 19: To His Mistress Going to Bed will accompany the undressing of the actors, with each item of clothing mentioned in the poem being removed one by one. Visitors will receive a copy of the poem in a booklet designed and created by Jenny Tiramani especially for the evening. The undressing and dressing ritual will culminate in the spectacular final male and female Elizabethan outfits worn by the actors being showcased in a catwalk through the Gallery.
The evening will also feature a number of drop-in art workshops, including License my Roving Hands, a drawing class with a focus on Elizabethan fashion and clothing detail, where participants will be able to work from life and receive guidance from Dennis Northdruft, Curator at the Fashion and Textile Museum. Herbalist Anna Canning will reveal the ingredients and techniques of making Elizabethan cosmetics in an interactive workshop, and theatre and costume designers Lily Arnold and Georgia Lowe will be on hand to help visitors create their own accessories.
The Elizabethan Salon will be open throughout the evening for visitors to drop in and discover more about Elizabethan England with a series of short talks by experts, including the curator of the Elizabeth I & Her People exhibition, Dr Tarnya Cooper. Topics will include interior design, espionage and rebellion.
Visitors will also be able to contribute to a live literary work as writer David Varela takes residence in the Gallery for one night only to respond creatively to the evening and to visitors' thoughts and ideas. David's writing will be projected on to the Gallery wall and streamed live to a global audience at www.livewritingseries.com.
Music on the night will be provided by medieval music group Mediva, who will perform songs from the period using a range of instruments, including shawms, cornets, dulcians and the hurdy gurdy.
The National Portrait Gallery's new exhibition Elizabeth I & Her People explores for the first time the achievements of the Elizabethan period through portraits of the queen, nobility and rising middle classes. The exhibition will be open on the night and visitors with an exhibition ticket will be offered 2 for 1 drinks at the Late Shift Bar.
For full details about all activities taking place throughout the night, visit www.npg.org.uk/lateshift.
Photo Credit: Anais Abel