Power to Transform is a research project which traces the history of British scenic artists and painted stage cloths from the mid-seventeenth century to the present day.
This project gives a voice to those practitioners whose world is rarely documented. This is achieved through oral histories and by engaging with the process of making; relating it to traditional forms of theatrical painting and exploring the significance of painted scenic art to our cultural heritage.
We gratefully acknowledge the Leverhulme Trust for supporting this project under a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship.
The aim of the project is to highlight and sustain the legacy of scenic artists, their materials and their methods.
This ephemeral art form leaves scare and disparate sources from which to evaluate and integrate into a narrative. This project draws upon extant stage cloths, set designs, sketches, paintings, paint samples, white card models, production files, photographs, film, oral histories, newspaper cuttings & illustrations, playbills, programmes, reviews, memoirs, maps, ephemera, performance spaces, paint frames, production workshops, paint & canvas manufacturers and suppliers.
Clips from the oral histories and images of painted stage cloths are presented via this website as the project proceeds. The full oral histories are available for access via this website and also published in a research data repository at DataCite DOI: 10.5525/gla.researchdata.1095. A searchable database will allow you to explore the history of scenic artists. Every two months there will be a Spotlight on one area of the project- so please check back for more insights into the wonderful world of scenic art.
In addition, the project will culminate in a book and an exhibition at The Hunterian.