Our battle is more full of names than yours,
Our men more perfect in the use of arms,
Our armour all as strong, our cause the best;
Henry IV, Part II
There is always something artistic happening at Nazareth. Whether it’s Thomas Merton’s zen photography, a totem pole and its fallen bird’s head,or a subterranean art walk with President Braveman. Now, in Exploring Elizabethan Culture, the Renaissance is in full splendor at the Lorette Wilmot Library during the month of March.
At its opening, I met James Hanselman, the Exhibit Designer. Many people enjoy a summer outing to the Sterling Renaissance Faire. James is way beyond a day trip. As James says, his interest in the Renaissance has “escalated from a hobby to a passion to an obsession.”
The exhibit displays replicas of full suits of armour (one man at arms and two knights), Elizabethan clothing, weaponry, drinking vessels, flags and headdresses, and includes wall texts explaining various customs of the period and the Elizabethan alphabet.
Sharing his experience in time travel, James offers a small flavor for which you will have to come by for the full banquet:
What comes to mind when you hear of the Renaissance? A large turkey leg, pint of ale, buxom ladies and jousting? Frame your mind to encompass much more than that. The period, lasting two hundred years, was responsible for more advancements in fine arts, health care and science than any time. Only a few pivotal times in history can boast of such quantum leaps in cultural human advancement.The amazing thing about Elizabethan culture is we are still affected by these advances, however enhanced and improved. Inventions such as the submarine, helicopter, printing press, thermometer, not to mention the toilet and bottled beer!
In the performing arts, combinations of musical instruments began their introduction in the world, as well as printed music along with newly invented instruments such as the viol [early violin], Hautboy [early oboe] and keyboards called the spinet, harpsicord and virginals. In the culinary arts, spices such as cinnamon, ginger, cloves and garlic transformed cooking and foods and paved the way for some of the foods we enjoy today. Who could ever leave out Shakespeare with his genius gift to performing arts and Rembrandt’s gift to the visual arts?
My passion has been hewn over the past ten years or so with movies such as Elizabeth, The Tudors series, as well as local Renaissance faires. The faires really sparked my interest in costumes and clothing of the time period. I thought it would be so cool to don the apparel of the period and “live the period.” It was such a great experience — interactive players engaging me in Elizabethan conversation — that I wanted to perfect and expand my wardrobe. Being kind of expensive, I decided to make some of my own.
So I found a leather jacket I believed could be transformed into a doublet or vest. So began my journey. I am still shy about making pants, or what they call breeches, due to the possible wardrobe malfunction that would leave me standing in my skivvies! I have over a dozen pieces created by hand stitching and using fabric adhesives which I thought would never withstand even one or two wearings, but to my surprise have lasted for over six years!
To round out the exhibit, I have purchased pieces of armor from various sources and have assembles three suits. Some of the pieces were created and fabricated by Robert of Stokewood who learned the trade in England and actually hand hammers them out on a wood stump! The skills and expertise is such that you can’t even notice one hammer mark on his pieces. He now teaches the art and offers classes in his studio in Ohio. I have heard from many people that it makes such a difference experiencing these pieces up close and in person rather than on printed page.
I want to share my passion and the knowledge accrued over the past four or five years to guide people who desire the experience of the Elizabethan Renaissance. During the month of March, this exhibit focuses on various articles written about the period, displays of different types of armor, and full sized mannequins in the typical dress of the period.
Visit the Nazareth College library and become consumed by the Elizabethan Period.