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




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Barry Kay – Biography – Abstract & Summaries


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> 1932-1955
> 1956-1965
> 1966-1975
> 1976-1985
> 1985 et seq
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Barry Kay






Born in Melbourne, Australia, 1932

Barry Kay's prolific, artistic output clearly demonstrates his development and steady advancement, eventually resulting in the most innovative ideas he contributed to the performing arts. His career could reasonably be divided into three overlapping, albeit tentatively assessed, creative periods: 1. the 'early period' of seeking his orientation – lasting from 1953/54 to 1958/59; 2. the transitional 'middle period' of gradually breaking away from conventions in stage design such as painted sets – lasting until about 1964; and 3. the 'late period' during which he designed constructed sets revolutionizing ballet design – terminating with his death in 1985.

Kay's successful career in photography falls into the last period and commenced in 1973. His profound interest in human nature and characteristics found expression in the most remarkable socio-anthropological studies and documentaries, as well as in vividly and uniquely capturing stage artist acting and dancing in costumes and scenery he created.

When once asked about his motivation of photographing subjects of this nature, Kay succinctly replied: "I love humans". This statement constitutes the very precept underlying and permeating all of his photographic creations.


Initial education at boarding school, Genève, Switzerland


Further education at colleges, Toorak, Melbourne


First studied music at the conservatoire [?], Zürich [?], later art at the Académie Julian, Paris


Painting in the early years of his career, Australia and England


Resident in London since 1956


Set and costume designs for ballet, drama, opera and film; working internationally


Since 1973 also photography


Lecturer in stage design: Slade School of Fine Art, guest; Croydon College of Design and Technology, senior; both London


Died in London, UK, 1985


Stage and Costume Designs Line4 Summaries




Anastasia, 1-act version
Anastasia, 3-act version
Bal de la Victoire
Cain and Abel
Don Quixote Stage
Don Quixote Movie
Four Seasons
Frankie and Johnnie
Images of Love
Isadora Solos
Jacaranda Town
Miss Julie
Rake's Progress ¹
Raymonda, Act III
Soft Sorrow
Sleeping Beauty
Solitaire pas de deux
Sound Barrier
Swan Lake, Act II


Dance of Death
Kindly Monkeys
Measure for Measure
No Why
Romanoff and Juliet
Saint Joan
Summer of the Seventeenth Doll
Taming of the Shrew
Thieves' Carnival


Cunning Little Vixen
Meistersingers of Nuremberg
Mirrors of the Truth
Peter Grimes
Tell-Tale Heart
Unicorn, Gorgon and Manticore ²

Varied Designs

Glass Slipper
Purcell Cabaret

¹) or opera [?] of same title
²) covers ballet as well



Bryan Bailey, drama
Jan Bouws, opera
John Copley, opera
Peter Darrell, ballet
Peter Dews, drama
Walter Gore, ballet
Colin Graham, opera
Rudolf Hartmann, opera
Alison Lee, ballet
Kenneth MacMillan, ballet, drama
Laurel Martyn, ballet
Robin Midgley, drama
Rudolf Nureyev, ballet
Garry O'Connor, drama
Alfred Rodrigues, revue
John Schlesinger, drama, film
Krishna Shah, drama
Peter Streuli, drama
John Sumner, drama
Margaret Webster, drama
Elizabeth West, ballet




American Ballet Theatre, New York
Australian Ballet, Melbourne
Australian Theatre Ballet, Melbourne
Arts Theatre Club, London
Ballett der Deutschen Oper, Berlin
Ballet Guild, Melbourne
Ballet National de Marseille
Ballet de l'Opéra de Paris
Belgrade Theatre Company, Coventry
English National Ballet, London (posth.)
English Opera Group, Aldeburgh
Elizabeth West Ballet Company, Bristol [?]
National Theatre Ballet, Melbourne
National Theatre Movement, Australia
Nederlandse Opera, Amsterdam
Royal Ballet, Principle Company, London
Royal Ballet, Touring Company, London
Royal Opera, London
Royal Shakespeare Company, London
Royal Swedish Ballet, Stockholm
Sadler's Wells Opera Company, London
Sadler's Wells Royal Ballet, London
San Francisco Ballet (posth.)
Sarasota Ballet, Florida (posth.)
Sunday Ballet Club, London
Suttgarter Ballett
Walter Gore Ballet Company, Melbourne
Western Theatre Ballet, Bristol
Wiener Staatsopernballett



Pen drawing by Barry Kay costume design for Anastasia's sisters, the Grand Duchesses Maria, Olga and Tatiana in the ballet 'Anastasia' three-act version by Kenneth MacMillan for the Royal Ballet Covent Garden London 1971


Arts Theatre, London
Ballet Guild Studio Theatre, Melbourne
Belgrade Theatre, Coventry
Big Top, Plymouth
Coliseum Theatre, London (posth.)
Dartington Hall, Dartington, Devon
Deutsche Oper Berlin, Charlottenburg
Empire Theatre, Edinburgh
Finnish National Opera, Helsinki
Frankendael Park Festival Stage, Amsterdam
Het HOT Theater, Den Haag
Hippodrome, Bristol
His Majesty's Theatre, Perth, Western Australia
Kennedy Center, Washington, DC
Kungliga Operan, Stockholm
L'Opéra Municipal de Marseilles
Lyric Opera House, Hammersmith, London
Lyric Theatre, Shaftesbury Ave, London
Metropolitan Opera House, Lincoln Center, New York
National Theatre, London
New Arts Theatre, London
New Theatre, Oxford
New York City Center, New York
Old Vic, London
Palace Court Theatre, Bournemouth
Palais des Sports, Paris
Palais Theatre, Melbourne
Princess Theatre, Melbourne
Repertory Theatre, Middle Park, Melbourne [?]
Royal Court Theatre, London
Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester
Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh [?]
Royal Opera House, Covent Garden
Sadler's Wells Theatre, London
Shrine Auditorium, Los Angeles
Snape Maltings Concert Hall, nr Aldeburgh, Suffolk
Stables Theatre, Hastings
Stadsschouwburg Haarlem, Netherlands
Stadsschouwburg Rotterdam, Netherlands
St. Martin's Theatre, London
Studio Theatre, Adelaide
Sydney Opera House
Teatro Caio Melisso, Spoleto
Teatro Olympico, Roma
Théâtre de la Monnaie, Brussels
Théâtre National Opéra de Paris
Theatre Royal, Adelaide [?]
Theatre Royal, Bristol
Theatre Royal, Hanley
Union Theatre, University of Melbounre
Van Wezel Peforming Arts Hall, Sarasota (posth.)
Vaudeville Theatre, London
War Memorial Opera House, San Francisco (posth.)
West-Arts Theatre, London
Wiener Staatsoper
Württembergische Staatstheater, Opera House, Stuttgart



Adelaide Festival
Aldeburgh Festival of Music and the Arts
Ballet Festival, Holland
Bath Festival of the Arts
Berliner Festspiele / Berliner Festwochen
City of London Festival
Dartington Festival
Edinburgh International Festival
Festival dei Due Mondi, Spoleto
Holland Festival
Melbourne International Arts Festival (posth.)
Victoria's 150th Anniversary Celebrations, Melbourne (posth.)




Annelie Juda Fine Arts, London
Bards Gallery, London
British Council Gallery, Athens
Brummel's Gallery, Melbourne
Coliseum Theatre, London
Decor Gallery, London
Centre national du costume de scène, Moulins, France (posth.)
Charles Spencer Theatre Gallery, London
Clune Gallery, Sydney
Contemporary Graphics Gallery, Athens
Desmos Gallery, Athens, British Council exhibition
Fisher Fine Art, London [?]
Galerie Bargera, Cologne
Galerie Hammer, Europa Center, Berlin
Galerie Jebenstraße, Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz, Berlin
Galerie Liatowitsch, Basel
Galerie Proscenium, Paris
Grosvenor Gallery, London
Horsham Art Gallery, Victoria, Australia (posth.)
Johnstone Gallery, Brisbane
Langton Gallery, Marina Henderson, London
Liberty's, London
Macquarie Galleries, Sydney
Mornington Peninsula Arts Centre, Victoria, Australia
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
New South Wales House, London
Pallant House Gallery, Chichester
Performing Arts Museum, Melbourne
Peter Bray Gallery, Melbourne
Royal Opera House, Covent Garden
South Yarra Gallery, Melbourne
State Theatre of Victoria, Melbourne [1.1]
Studio la Città Galleria d'Arte, Verona
Sydney Opera House, British Council exhibition
Victoria & Albert Museum, London

Westpac Gallery, Victorian Arts Centre, Melbourne (posth.)
Wright Hepburn Webster Gallery, New York
de Young Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco (posth.)



Anastasia ³ Act I

costume for Anastasia's sisters,
the Grand Duchesses
Maria, Olga and Tatiana

inverse image
feltpen on layout paper
18 x 40 cm



Barry Kay – A Tribute (1932-1985)
Solo exhibition; Victorian Arts Centre, Melbourne; occasion: Melbourne International Arts Festival; 16 October - 2 November 1997.

Kenneth MacMillan – The Outsider
Mixed exhibition; Theatre Museum London; occasion: "International Celebration of Kenneth MacMillan"; 11 October 2002 - mid-2003.

Stage Fright: The Art of Theatre
Mixed exhibition; National Gallery of Australia; showcasing designs and costumes by artists represented at the Gallery’s collection of Australian Theatre Arts; Canberra 11 June - 26 September 2005; travelling to four Australian locations 9 February - 28 October 2007.

Design for Dance
Mixed exhibition; Royal Opera House Collections; occasion: celebrating 75 years of of the history of The Royal Ballet; venue: Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, public areas; October 2005 - July 2006.

Memories in Motion
Mixed exhibition; The Australian Ballet and Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC); occasion – commemorating over forty years of The Australian Ballet in Brisbane; venues: Tony Gould Gallery & QPAC foyers; 22 February - 21 April 2007.

Rudolf Nureyev, 1938-1993
Mixed exhibition; Centre national du costume de scène (CNCS); occasion: celebration of the Rudolf Nureyev Foundation having donated the CNCS a prestigious, multifaceted collection of objects, including costume designs and original stage costumes, once the property of Rudolf Nureyev; venue: CNCS, Quartier Villars, Moulins sur Allier, France; 9 May - 11 November 2009.

Monica Mason: A Life With The Royal Ballet
Mixed exhibition; Royal Opera House, Covent Garden; occasion: a tribute to Monica Mason in her final season as Director of The Royal Ballet; on show are costumes, photographs, drawigns and artefacts compiled from holdings of Mason and the Royal Opera House Collections, also featuring stage costumes designed by Barry Kay and worn by Mason in Raymonda, Act III, Anastasia, 3-act version, and Isadora; venue: Royal Opera House, public areas; 27 February - 17 July 2012.

Rudolf Nureyev: A Life in Dance
Mixed exhibition; organized in collaboration with the Centre national du costume de scène, Moulins, France, and the de Young Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco; occasion: the 20th anniversary of Rudolf Nureyev’s death; works by Barry Kay include costume drawings and actual stage costumes designed for and worn by Nureyev in Don Quixote; venue: de Young; 6 October 2012 - 17 February 2013.




Arts Centre, Performing Arts Collection, Melbourne
Australian Ballet Foundation, Melbourne
Australian Ballet Society, Melbourne
Australian Council for the Arts, Sydney
British Council [1.2]
Centre national du costume de scène (CNCS), Moulins, France (posth.)
Deutsche Oper Berlin, Archive
McNay Art Museum, Robert L B Tobin Collection of Theatre Arts, Austin, Texas
McNay Art Museum, Robert L B Tobin Collection of Theatre Arts, Austin, Texas
National Gallery of Australia, Australian Theatre Arts Collection, Canberra
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne [1.3]
National Gallery of Western Australia, Perth
National Library of Australia, Canberra
| Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, Vienna – since 1991 new repository:
| Österreichisches Theatermuseum, Vienna
Royal Opera House Collections, London
| Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz – successive repositories:
| Galerie Jebenstraße, Dahlem Museum, Kunstbibliothek / Lipperheidesche Kostümbibliothek
State Library of New South Wales, Mitchell Library, Sydney
University of Adelaide, Library, Special Collections
University of Bristol, Theatre Collection, England
University of Calgary, Library, Special Collections, Alberta, Canada
| Victoria & Albert Museum, Theatre Collections, London – interim repository:
| Theatre Museum, London [1.4]
Wiener Staatsoper, Ballet Archives, Vienna



Artistic Director of the Edinburgh International Festival 1961.
[oral history, third-party information unverified]



On Designing for Ballet Today; Barry Kay in an interview with Alexander Schouvaloff;
a contribution to Designing for the Dancer, co-authored by Roy Strong, Ivor Guest,
Richard Buckle, Barry Kay and Liz Da Costa; Elron Press, London, l98l; ISBN 0-904499-11-1



National Library of Australia, PANDORA web archive, November 2006 [1.5]
Live Performance Australia, Hall of Fame, November 2007 [1.6]


Auxiliary Designs Line14 Summaries



Independent, freelance; exhibitions; Melbourne and London



Ansett Australia Airlines; air carrier
British European Airways, United Kingdom; air carrier
Cutex, United Kingdom; cosmetics & toiletries
Elizabeth Arden, United Kingdom; cosmetics
EnCams, United Kingdom; environmental campaigns > 'Keep Britain Tidy' campaign
Foubert, London [?]; men's fashion & accessories
Garnier Ambre Solaire, United Kingdom; sun protection products
Hunt & Winterbotham, Huddersfield, United Kingdom; cloth merchants
Nabisco, United Kingdom; baked snacks > Ritz crackers
Order of St John, London; care trust; also photography [ibid]
Revlon, United Kingdom; cosmetics
Ronson, United Kingdom; smoking accessories
Simpsons The Jeweller, Melbourne; jewellery retail
Switzerland Tourism, United Kingdom; holiday trade
Thackeray's Books, United Kingdom; book retail
The Garden, Covent Garden, London; gastronomy
United Dairies, United Kingdom; dairy products



Pacific & Orient Line / Orient Steam Navigation Company, London; passenger cruise line; SS Oriana


Window Display

Myer, Bourke Street & Lonsdale Street, Melbourne; department store



Myer, Melbourne; as above
Ideal Home Exhibtion, Melbourne



Zika (Zigmund) Ascher, London; textile & fashion art



Photography Line21 Summaries



Australian Centre for Photography, Sydney
British Council Gallery, Athens
Fotostiftung Schweiz, Winterthur
Galerie Palme, Zürich
Photographers Gallery, London
PPS Galerie FC Gundlach, Hamburg



As a Woman, St. Martin's Press, New York, 1976
Die anderen Frauen, Dieter Fricke Verlag, Frankfurt am Main, 1976
The Other Women, Mathews Miller Dunbar Ltd, London, 1976



British Journal of Photography Annual 1978
Camera, Switzerland
Camera Work [?]
Der Spiegel, Germany
Hör Zu, Germany
Radio TV Sverige, Stockholm
Schöner Wohnen, Germany
The Observer, colour supplement, London
The Sunday Times, colour supplement, London
Trewin Copplestone, London
| Portfolio As a Woman, C International Photo Magazine, Edition 9,
| September 2009; Ivory Press, London & Madrid (posth.)




Order of St John, London; care trust; coproduction; also graphics [ibid]


Film and Television Line27 Summaries



Consultant Designer of Darling, movie; direction John Schlesinger; starring Julie Christie, Dirk Bogarde, Laurence Harvey; 1965

Art Director – Swan Lake, ballet, movie; direction [?]; starring Margot Fonteyn, Rudolf Nureyev, Vienna State Opera Ballet; 1966

Production Designer – Don Quixote, ballet, movie; direction Rudolf Nureyev, Robert Helpman; starring Rudolf Nureyev, Lucette Aldous, Robert Helpman; International Arts Inc; gala world première screening at Sydney Opera House; 1973



Moscow International Film Festival

About Us
> 1932-1955
> 1956-1965
> 1966-1975
> 1976-1985
> 1985 et seq
Design Opus
Photography Opus
Notes & Texts
Ex Operibus
Archive Plaza
Site Map



Australian Broadcasting Corporation - ABC, subject [?]

Bal de la Victoire, ballet; British Broadcasting Corporation - BBC TV, "Music for You"; 1960

Don Quixote, ballet, movie version dito; broadcasting company [?]; year [?]

Isadora, ballet; Grenada TV, UK; 1982



Norddeutscher Rundfunk - NDR, Hamburg, national transmission of biographical documentation of Kay's work for stage design and photography; NDR TV, Channel 1; 1978

Westdeutscher Rundfunk - WDR, Cologne, producing and televising of Barry Kay – Begegnung mit einem Bühnenbildner / Barry Kay – Portrait of a Stage Designer; WDR TV-3; 1982

Australian Broadcasting Corporation - ABC, live interview with Robert Page and subsequent televising of Barry Kay – Begegnung mit einem Bühnenbildner / Barry Kay – Portrait of a Stage Designer; ABC TV, "Sunday Spectrum"; 1982



forward to 1932-1955



Commission of four tapestries for the State Theatre's Grand Hall; project foiled by committee. back to text


In 1978, when the British Council dissolved its arts collection, Kay's designs were handed over to the Theatre Collections of the Victoria & Albert Museum. back to text


The National Gallery of Victoria holds six designs by Barry Kay. The majority of them were donated by individuals and institutions, among the latter the Felton Bequest and The Art Foundation of Victoria from the Bequest of Violet Dulieu. back to text


The London Theatre Museum, a short-lived, independently operating offshoot from the Victoria & Albert Museum and Britain's only performing arts museum established with theatre-related materials from the V&A in 1987, is defunct with effect of 7 January 2007. Its collections are now reintegrated into the V&A Theatre Collections. back to text


The National Library of Australia posthumously honoured Barry Kay for his artistic achievements and identified the Barry Kay Archive for conserving, preserving and archiving Kay's creations, as well as for providing public online access to them – as: "Heritage of national significance with long-term research value." As a result, the online publication of the Barry Kay Archive is retained in the Library's database of PANDORA, Australia's Web Archive, to provide independent public access to it in perpetuity. back to text


Live Performance Australia, the peak body for Australia's live entertainment and performing arts industry, posthumously selected Barry Kay as one of eighty theatre artists awarded a place in its newly established virtual Hall of Fame, featuring a short biography about each artist. back to text

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