Byrne paints King’s Dome

April 11, 2013 | By | 1 Reply More

John Byrne design for King’s Theatre dome

Detail of John Byrne’s design for the King’s Theatre dome, Edinburgh. © John Byrne

Detail of John Byrne’s design for the King’s Theatre dome, Edinburgh. © John Byrne

By Thom Dibdin

A new design by artist and playwright John Byrne has been commissioned for the domed ceiling above Edinburgh’s King’s Theatre auditorium.

The new design will be painted onto the dome in July as the final part of the current restoration project of the theatre. It will be unveiled on August 6, ahead of the opening productions of this year’s EIF.

According to a spokesman for the King’s: “Byrne has produced a vivid, colourful design which plays on duality, light and shade, the sun and the moon and features the opening lines from Jaques’ famous monologue in As You Like It ‘All the world’s a stage..’.”

This will be the fourth design to grace the domed ceiling. The current trompe l’oeil image, which appears to be open to the sky, was created in 1985. It has been partially covered over with plaster in order to make the ceiling safe and left to dry out for six months. It replaced a 50s design which, itself, covered the 1906 original.

John Byrne in front of the current (1985-painted) ceiling. Photo © Aly Wight

John Byrne in front of the current (1985-painted) ceiling. Photo © Aly Wight

Talking of how the commission came about, John Byrne said: “When my partner Jeanine and I went to the King’s to see the splendid West End touring production of The Ladykillers, we glanced up at the dome and noticed that part of it had been re-plastered – this prior to the curtain going up on the play, I hasten to add. Which made us wonder what was going to happen with it.

“You can imagine my surprise and delight when a few weeks later I was asked if I would like to accept the commission to provide a new design for the dome – I didn’t even have to think, I jumped at the chance! Given that it’s a two-minute walk from where we live and we not only stroll past it on a daily basis but we are regular theatregoers there, all I can think to say is ‘God Save the King’s!’.”

Duncan Hendry, Chief Executive of the Festival City Theatres Trust added: ‘I am absolutely delighted that John Byrne has agreed to create a new fresco for the dome of the King’s. As well as having written many of the great plays that have graced the stage at the King’s, John is a superb visual artist and a regular attender at our theatre. I can think of no one more appropriate to provide a beautiful and thought-provoking design for the dome and I’m sure that audiences will enjoy his work for many years to come.”

The  commission has been made possible through funding from the Theatres Development Fund and private donations.

The current 1985 trompe l’oeil fresco, which in need of repainting. Photo © Aly Wight

The current 1985 trompe l’oeil fresco, which is in need of repainting. Photo © Aly Wight

Detail of the current ceiling of the King's Theatre auditorium. Photo © Aly Wight

Detail of the current ceiling of the King’s Theatre auditorium. Photo © Aly Wight

ENDS

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  1. Thom Dibdin says:

    Updated to include Aly Wight’s pictures of the ceiling in its current state of repair.

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