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“FAIR is foul and foul is fair!” Shakespeare’s trio of witches shriek, stirring a noxious pot of of potions over a fire, as they plot Macbeth’s downfall.

An exhibition inspired by the bard promises to be every bit as disturbing.

With Shakespeare’s 400th birthday in April (brace thyself) a trio of artists has drawn on the bard’s works in Fair is Foul and Foul is Fair.

“We play around with disturbing subject matter, but the works are quite beautiful as well,” artist and curator Andrew Nicholls tells the Herald.

And did the Highgate local just confess to murderous intentions?

A descendent of the Thanes of Cawdor (Macbeth’s title) Nicholls stands to inherit the clan’s Scottish castle, if he outlives the approximately 100 prior claimants.

“I’m often tempted to take up the family tradition and kill people to get the inheritance,” he jokes.

One of his images, “be bloody, be bold, be resolute” (as an apparition told Macbeth) is of a small boy covered in blood and wearing a kilt, suggesting the Macbeth genes have filtered down to the antipodes.

In high school Perth-born artist and muslim Abdul Abdullah identified with the oppressed Caliban in The Tempest, going on to use Shakespeare in his explorations of “the other” in his works, including a self portrait as Hamlet’s Ophelia.

A beautiful woman, flowers and gentle waterways are usually associated with images of her madness and suicide, but the internationally acclaimed artist’s haunting self-portrait turns that on its head.

“He turned Ophelia into a man–a reversal of gender,” Nicholls says.

David Collins’ works reinterpret the idea of romanticism, neo-classicism and gothic revival in contemporary images of sensual decadence that become increasingly problematised and disturbing under close investigation.

His Puck is a tortured soul–more Munch’s Scream than Joshua Reynolds’ romantic 17th century rendition.

Nicholls was commissioned by the City of Perth for a $250,000 mural for its new library.

Based on The Tempest, it features a portrait of mate Abdullah as Caliban, and should be open during the exhibition run.

Fair is Foul and Foul is Fair is on until November 14, at Turner Galleries, 470 William Street, Northbridge.


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