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Students craft bench for New Place visitors

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Students have helped to craft an oak bench at Shakespeare's New Place
Students have helped to craft an oak bench at Shakespeare's New Place

ARE you sitting comfortably? Visitors to Shakespeare’s New Place in Stratford will soon be thanks to a grand 25 metre long oak bench crafted by local students.

Furniture craft students at Leamington College played a supporting role in the spectacular transformation of Shakespeare’s New Place as they helped deliver a stunning oak bench which will be a central feature of the dramatic new garden on the site of Shakespeare’s house.

The circular oak bench - which is over 25 metres long, half the length of an Olympic size swimming pool - was commissioned by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust from craftsman Armando Magnino, who is also a lecturer at the college. Student Philipp Stummer has worked with Armando on the bench has taken over six months to complete.

The bench envelopes the area representing the heart of the Shakespeares’ family home, providing the perfect spot to contemplate the pivotal sculpture, ‘His Mind’s Eye’ a monumental bronze tree representing the power of Shakespeare’s imagination.

Thirteen students transported the bench onto a long loader so it could make the journey from Armando’s workshop in Warwick to Shakespeare’s New Place.

As the bench was so large, it was made in six smaller pieces ranging from six to nine metres. They then transferred the bench into the contemporary new garden, where Philipp and Armando secured the seating in place.

Speaking after the bench had been delivered safely, Armando said: “We couldn’t have done it without the students so a big thank you to them today. It’s been a long journey as we have been working on the bench since November but it is wonderful to see it finally in the space it was designed for.

“The project has been an incredible experience for myself, and for Philipp and our colleague Simon Ferguson who has been assisting with the project too. I have done a lot of intricate craftsmanship but nothing on this scale - it brings a whole new level of complexity that has many challenges.

“It’s an honour to have my work in a world famous heritage landmark and hope that the visitors make good use of it to take in the view of the beautiful new garden.”

Philipp, who is just about to complete his Level 3 Furniture Crafts at Royal Leamington Spa College said: “It’s amazing to see the bench finally in place. We have done everything in partnership and I have learned so much from Armando on the project.”

Julie Crawshaw, project manager, Shakespeare’s New Place said: “We have brought together an outstanding community of artists, craftspeople and designers to create a contemporary gateway to Shakespeare on this internationally significant site. The seating which Armando and his team have created is an artwork in its own right, truly beautiful to the touch and the eye, creating an oasis to sit and contemplate Shakespeare’s enduring influence in our world.”

A final date for the reopening of New Place has yet to be released.

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