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Time frozen in amber. Exhibition project at the Shakespeare Theater

Dobrawa Bies
15 of October '21

Emilia Pietrzyk and Marcela Zielińska from the Academy of Fine Arts in Gdansk are the authors of the amber exhibition project at the Shakespeare Theater in Gdansk. Using the theater's spaces, the designers created an oneiric exhibition that "stops time."

The exhibition design was created during the stage design classes conducted at the Academy of Fine Arts in Gdansk by Marta Koniczuk.

rojekt wystawy
bursztynu w Teatrze Szekspirowskim w Gdańsku

Project of the amber exhibition at the Shakespeare Theater in Gdansk.

© Emilia Pietrzyk, Marcela Zielińska

meaning of amber

Amber is defined as the sap or tree resin from coniferous trees. Polish gold, as it is often called, is of great importance in our culture - we are specialists in its extraction. In folk medicine, amber was used for health purposes preventing sore throats, headaches and strengthening the thyroid gland. In addition to medicinal and jewelry uses, amber is characterized by "retaining and immortalizing" living organisms. Its transparent texture and dense form allows it to preserve almost at the moment of movement, for example, small animals or inorganic inclusions. Movement is possible to notice when contrasted with a solid. The moment of stopping such a moment inspired us to try to show these sensations in an exhibition at the Shakespeare Theater," explain the authors of the project.

The Shakespeare Theater located at 1 Wojciech Boguslawski Street in Gdansk is a building that stands out from its surroundings, which aesthetically wonderfully fit the theme of the project by the students of the Gdansk Academy of Fine Arts. The theater's black brick walls simultaneously introduce a feeling of calm and mystery, as well as encourage visitors to explore, successive zones of the building. All this flows into the character of the exhibition, which aims to show the impression of stopping time.

Projekt wystawy
bursztynu w Teatrze Szekspirowskim w Gdańsku, rzut

projection of the exhibition at the Shakespeare Theater

© Emilia Pietrzyk, Marcela Zielińska

stopping time

The first part of the constructions we designed inside the theater represents stillness, silence, and a dreamlike perception of the entire exhibition. The introduction of all these features allows the visitor to prepare himself mentally and direct all his attention and curiosity to the exhibition, the authors say.

The powerful polished sheet metal used in the interiors is, curved to form subtle arches. Placed on two sides of opposite walls, the sheet metal reflects light and space like a mirror. Because of the curves and the specifications of the material, the reflected image creates curves and gives visitors a misleading vision of the interior.

Złota barierka we
wnętrzu wystawy

A golden railing guides visitors to the exhibition

© Emilia Pietrzyk, Marcela Zielińska

The caricatured reflection in the sheet blurs the realism of the reflection, so that the dreaminess of the scene is strongly brought out and deepened. The illusionistic treatment after the juxtaposition of the opposite sheets puts the viewer in a state of dreamlike perception of reality, with only the finely curved gold railing surrounding the metal sheets pointing the way towards the exhibition. It is introduced to indicate the way to reach the most important part of the exhibition, the designers add.

Projekt wystawy
bursztynu w Teatrze Szekspirowskim, rzut, czarna posadzka

The authors left the black paving of the building

© Emilia Pietrzyk, Marcela Zielińska

gradation of emotions

The architects left the black original paving of the theater building, which fits well with the idea of the designed space, bringing out the contrast of the golden color of the jantar. The balustrade, leading to the next stage of the exhibition, indicates the final display. A quiet zone, it strongly contrasts with the designed exhibition space of amber. The railing turns into a whirlpool, resembling a tornado climbing up the walls. Just behind it, the brilliance of the uniform sheet of amber is reflected by the metal sheets on the walls and ceiling, so as to maintain the compositional balance of the two exhibition zones. A static sheet of jantar attached to the walls of the Shakespeare Theater hovers above the viewer, reflecting its brilliance in the material used in the previous room.

Projekt wystawy
bursztynu w Teatrze Szekspirowskim, przekrój

The exhibition design gradates the emotions

© Emilia Pietrzyk, Marcela Zielińska

Our design goal was to show a noble object such as amber and to bring the viewer into a moment of stopping time, reflection, and positive surprise with the installation itself. Adequately preparing the viewer with an earlier, calm zone, allows him or her to properly tune in to the growing emotions and changes in the exhibition's design. The oneiric way of showing contrasts very well with the dynamism of the golden railing, and surprises visitors, thus leaving a trace in their thoughts and reflections," conclude Emilia Pietrzyk and Marcela Zielińska.

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