Theatre-rites tells Andersen story

The British Library is to celebrate the bicentenary of Danish children’s author Hans Christian Andersen, with an exhibition created by designer Andrew Lock, graphic design consultancy Glow Associates and Theatre-rites, a theatre production company.

Led by Theatre-rites, the collaborative team was commissioned by the British Library following a four-way competitive pitch in November 2004. ‘We have a unique combination of people that can provide skills in theatre for children as well as exhibition design,’ says Lock.

Lock is working with Theatre-rites associate visual artist Sophia Clist on the exhibition, with graphic concepts by Glow Associates head of graphic design Rick Nicholls. The library’s in-house team will implement the graphics.

The exhibition is part of a series of worldwide events, organised by the Hans Christian Andersen 2005 Foundation, to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the author’s birth.

Theatre-rites’ experience in family theatre productions will help create a strong appeal for children, explains Lock. ‘For a Hans Christian Andersen exhibition, the British Library was obliged to appeal to children – its exhibitions are normally very academic,’ he says.

A ‘paper’ swan (pictured left) with a 20m wingspan will be suspended above the 400m2 space. Puppet-makers have been commissioned to produce wooden characters from Andersen’s popular fairytales.

‘We have tried to steer away from the usual interactive, computer-based presentations in favour of a more fairytale and theatrical [design],’ says Lock.

Hans Christian Andersen will run from 20 May to 2 October 2005.

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