Barry Kay, internationally acclaimed stage and costume designer, photographer, born 1932 Melbourne Australia, died 1985 London England





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BARRY KAY ARCHIVE

London





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Barry Kay Archive






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History

Within days of Barry Kay's death in 1985, the Barry Kay Archive was founded with the intention of preserving and encouraging awareness and appreciation of his work, and especially so - reflecting the view of the late theatre arts collector Robert Tobin - since stage designers are artists tantamount to painters and sculptors, who therefore must be respected, recognized and honoured in the same way.

At the time of the Archive's inception, however, there existed no concept as yet as to how it should be shaped, what its priorities ought to be and what role it would and, indeed, could play eventually, let alone of how to raise basic, necessary funds to get it started and keep it going. As the Archive needs to be self-sustaining which, by its very nature, it is not, and is maintained without any external funding whatsoever, the resulting lack of resources was pretty much restricting then as it is today. These circumstances are affecting all areas and certainly do not allow for much concrete planning ahead either. In consequence, many years went by without any feasible resolve. It was, in fact, the advent of the internet that finally provided a suitable, yet relatively low-cost, platform to make some of Kay's opus accessible to a wider audience, whether academic or public.

Subsequently, in the year 1999, the Archive went online with some rudimentary information about Barry Kay and a small selection of his stage and costume designs. Greatly encouraged by this, a never-ending task of sorting and external researching, of identifying and allocating designs and information pertaining to them had begun. Together with the ceaseless support of our IT professional we started structuring the Archive's website systematically and launched our first major expanded online release in 2003. Ever since, apart from more frequent minor updates, further expanded releases are being published at periodically greater intervals.

Backed by the online display of a multitude of designs and substantially increased information about Barry Kay, his work and career, the Archive gained recognition nationally in the UK by being admitted to the listing of the National Register of Archives and its affiliate ARCHON (ARCHives ONline), and internationally by being accepted an institutional member of SIBMAS (Société Internationale des Bibliothèques et des Musées des Arts du Spectacle / International Association of Libraries and Museums of the Performing Arts) - both in 2004.

In November 2006 the National Library of Australia, committed to preserving electronic publications of lasting cultural value and bound by stringent selection criteria, identified the Barry Kay Archive as: "Heritage of national significance with long-term research value".

As a result, the online publication of the Barry Kay Archive is retained at the Library's database of PANDORA, Australia's Web Archive, to provide independent public access to it in perpetuity. Periodically, the Library records and archives significant changes and additions to the Archive's continuously expanding online publication, thereby not only preserving Barry Kay's legacy to the performing arts but also the history of the Archive bearing his name.

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Purpose and Objectives

Apart from a non-existing full biography in print, Barry Kay's importance is often overlooked in that his name and references to his designs are inexplicably missing from far too many hitherto published theatre reference books - undeservedly so. Unless conveyed by public collections or relevant teaching institutions, only but a few of Kay's generation will remain aware of his invaluable contributions to the performing arts. It is the Barry Kay Archive's primary purpose, therefore, to help maintain awareness and promote appreciation of Kay's works wherever possible. By making a selection of digital images of both Stage & Costume Design and Photography as well as related information available via the internet - hardly obtainable in any other way - a wider audience interested in these artistic métiers is given the chance of accessing them.

The Archive houses sketches and detailed final drawings of sets, including development sequences of scenery, of models and props, of costumes, period fashion apparel, jewellery, wigs, headdresses and make-up amounting to an estimated several hundred, if not well over one-thousand, items. Furthermore, the Archive holds a number of proposed and projected designs, which have never been seen publicly before. Eventually, some of these shall be accessible online for the first time too. Biographic information, reviews, interviews, articles and other texts, Kay's own lecture scripts on stage and costume designs, tributes, testimonials and obituaries complementing the visual online display are already partially installed. By steadily expanding on them, the Archive intends to establish an all-encompassing overview of Kay's work.

The general objectives of the Barry Kay Archive entail professionally maintaining, preserving and conserving our archival contents, recording Kay's photographic output in a similar manner, compiling biographic and historic data, chronologically listing and, by means of including written material, elaborating upon the various productions he designed. This includes the indexed and digitized cataloguing of as many of Kay's theatre designs as can be traced or accessed at other collections, and referencing the indexing of external directories. We are also referring to public and private collections housing his works and, if applicable, are hyperlinking them to the Archive's website.

The Archive's ultimate objective consists of systematically recording, classifying, categorizing, digitizing and indexing of all the materials, held at the Archive as well as those housed in other collections, with a view to eventually provide an externally accessible, free-of-charge, researchable cross-reference database for both students and professionals. We are investigating the feasibility of having the software developed to this end.

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Barry Kay Archive

The Barry Kay Archive's location in London, housing well over 1000 of Kay's stage and costume designs, consisting of preliminary sketches, final pen drawings, gouache and watercolour drawings, models of sets and stage properties, as well as all of his photographic works, letters, theatre contracts, miscellaneous documentation, playbills, etc.

Location in London






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Activities and Services

For aforementioned digitizing and indexing purposes we are endeavouring to locate and access Barry Kay's designs housed in public and private collections. As there are only inconsistent records in existence of the whereabouts of his works, and almost none in respect of private collections, our efforts may thus prove to be quite difficult, if not impossible in some cases. These tasks, however, would very much depend on the benevolent cooperation of institutions and individuals holding Kay's designs by granting us access to them - please see our appeal. Apart from following up on designs kept locally, our undertaking can only be embarked upon once public funding for the Barry Kay Archive - currently a far cry from it - would have been granted and secured, hopefully one day, in order to cover the expenses of necessary travel and man-time required.

Wherever possible and permitted by institutions and individuals holding Kay's designs, we would wish to physically provide such designs with our index numbers, additionally to their own, and the official stamp of the Barry Kay Archive.

Our activities also extend to liaising and cooperating with academic institutions by providing access and sharing information, including research and authenticating Kay's designs. In terms of requests to use or to publish Kay's designs or biographic data concerning his formative years and professional engagements, we cooperate with anyone preserving or promoting Kay's works, whether academic or commercial. To date, reciprocal collaboration and cooperation could be concluded satisfactorily on numerous occasions on an international scale.

For professionals and students, or those interested in acquisitions, a private viewing of the Archive's contents may be arranged by appointment. Owing to our almost non-existent resources, general public viewing however is not available and needs to remain restricted to the Archive's online display. For appointments please contact the Curator.

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Home
About Us
--> Synopsis
--> Barry Kay
--> Barry Kay Archive
Biography
Design Opus
Photography Opus
Notes & Texts
Homage
Ex Operibus
Noticeboard
Archive Plaza
Overview
Site Map
Links
Contact

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Securing the Archive's Continuance

Proportionate to the Barry Kay Archive's increasing tasks over the years, its overall expenditures rose considerably and have come to exceed the privately financed means. Since the Archive is non-profit oriented, and due to its lack of finances, we are looking for public funding to safeguard its continued existence. All the same, until such funding has been granted, regrettably some of the Archive's contents, albeit a loss to its collection, may undoubtedly have to be sold to procure a fraction of the pecuniary resources required toward fulfilling our purpose and objectives.

In the interest of serving the public at large, we would hence welcome and prefer if publicly funded institutions had the prudence of appropriating contingency sums to acquire Kay's designs - simply for reasons of 1. their availability for research, 2. keeping them in the context of theatre-related material and theatre history, and 3. preserving them in a safe, professionally attended and publicly accessible environment, so that future generations may enjoy them as much as we do today.

In our efforts of raising funds we are also offering for sale designs for the theatre, peripheral graphics and objets d'art by other artists as displayed on our Ex Operibus page. A selection of gift cards, exclusively published by the Barry Kay Archive, featuring some of Kay's designs and photographs, can be viewed at the Archive Plaza >> Gift Cards Collection. Further, reacquired secondhand copies of Kay's photographic publications The Other Women / As a Woman / Die anderen Frauen are available for resale when in stock. - Please direct enquiries to Sales.


The Curator

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APPEAL: Can you help?

As the Barry Kay Archive intends to systematically digitize and index Barry Kay's works, we are appealing to all institutions and collections, public as well as private, who are in possession of his designs, to please assist us in accomplishing this objective by establishing which designs may be held at any one collection. Please direct your information to the Curator. - back to text

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Notice:

All designs and photographs created by Barry Kay as well as his writings whether displayed on this web domain or in any other form or medium including the design and contents of the online publication of the Barry Kay Archive constitute Intellectual Property and are protected by Copyright and their use for reproduction and publication whatsoever and wheresoever whether commercial or non-commercial is not permitted without prior written consent by the Barry Kay Archive. - Please direct inquiries to the Curator



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return to Index_2 of the Barry Kay Archive, housing and displaying stage and costume designs as well as photographic works by Barry Kay --- return to page top of About Us, Purpose and Objectives of the Barry Kay Archive, housing and displaying set and costume designs by Barry Kay for Ballet, Comedy, Dance, Drama, Opera, Play, Revue and Romance productions, as well as photographic works --- forward to Abstract and Summaries of Biography on Barry Kay, Itemized Entries for Stage and Costume Designs for Ballet, Comedy, Dance, Drama, Opera, Play, Revue and Romance productions ------ end of ABOUT US - forward to Biography

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http://www.barry-kay-archive.org/ABOUT/about_BKA.html