Barry Kay — Biography — Abstract & Summaries


The itemized biography about Barry Kay, spanning well over three decades of his working life, charts year-by-year assignments and engagements with the focus on documenting his creative process and advancement. The recording of theatre performances is generally limited to first-night dates, while follow-up presentations are only listed occasionally. Annual seasons cited throughout refer to those of the northern hemisphere. Missing or unconfirmed data are tagged with a question mark. Annotations are placed in the margins and background information, anecdotal details and accounts of oral history can be found in the footnotes.

3-act version, 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

  • Born in Melbourne, Australia, 1932
  • 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 the theatre; 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 – Summaries

Design Assignments
Ballet, stage & film

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, Coventr
Compagnia di Balletto dell’Opera di Roma
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
Old Vic Company, London
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

Aldwych Theatre, London
Arts Theatre, London
Ballet Guild Studio Theatre, Melbourne
Belgrade Theatre, Coventry
Big Top, Plymouth
Circustheater, Den Haag
Civic Opera House, Chigago
Coliseum Theatre, London (posth.)
Dartington Hall, Dartington, Devon
Deutsche Oper Berlin, Charlottenburg
Empire Theatre, Edinburgh
Finnish National Opera, Helsinki
Frankendael Park Festival Stage, Amsterdam
Gran Teatro de La Habana, Cuba
Hippodrome, Bristol
Her Majesty’s Theatre, Adelaide, South Australia
His Majesty’s Theatre, Perth, Western Australia
HOT Theater, Den Haag
Jacob’s Pillow, Becket, Massachusetts
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
National Theatre, Melbourne [?]
New Arts Theatre, London
New Theatre, Oxford
New York City Center, New York
Old Vic Theatre, London
Palace Court Theatre, Bournemouth
Palais des Sports, Paris
Palais Theatre, Melbourne
Pavilion Theatre, Exmouth, Devon
Princess Theatre, Melbourne
Repertory Theatre, Middle Park, Melbourne [?]
Rotterdamse Schouwburg
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
St. Martin’s Theatre, London
Studio Theatre, Adelaide
Sydney Opera House
Teatro Caio Melisso, Spoleto [?]
Teatro dell’Opera di Roma (Teatro Costanzi)
Théâtre de la Monnaie, Brussels
Théâtre National Opéra de Paris
Theatre Royal, Adelaide [?]
Theatre Royal, Bristol
Theatre Royal, Hanley
Theatre Royal, Windsor
Union Theatre, University of Melbounre
Van Wezel Peforming Arts Hall, Sarasota (posth.)
Vaudeville Theatre, London
Victoria Rooms, Bristol [?]
War Memorial Opera House, San Francisco (posth.)
West-Arts Theatre, London
Wiener Staatsoper
Württembergische Staatstheater, Opera House, StuttgartNumerous regional theatres, Australia

Adelaide Festival
Aldeburgh Festival of Music and the Arts
Ballet Festival, Rotterdam
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
Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, Massachusetts
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
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.)

Posthumous Exhibitions

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, drawings 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.

Public Collections
Arts Centre, Performing Arts Collection, Melbourne
Australian Ballet Foundation, Melbourne
Australian Ballet Society, Melbourne
Australian Council for the Arts, Sydney
British Council 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 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
State Library of Western Australia, S.J. Battye Library, Perth
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 4
Wiener Staatsoper, Ballet Archives, Vienna

Special Assignment
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

Posthumous Appreciations
National Library of Australia, PANDORA web archive, November 2006 5
Live Performance Australia, Hall of Fame, November 2007 6

Additional Designs – Summaries

Independent, freelance; exhibitions; Melbourne and London

Product Advertising Graphics
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 campaign ‘Keep Britain Tidy’
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
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

Marketing & PR Graphics
Georges, Collins Street, Melbourne; department store

Commercial Shows
Myer, Melbourne; as above
Ideal Home Exhibtion, Melbourne

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

Photography – Summaries

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

Book Publications
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

Media Publications
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

Radio, Film and Television – Summaries


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

Aired Productions

Australian Broadcasting Corporation – ABC, subject [?]A Purcell Cabaret, musical entertainment; British Broadcasting Corporation – BBC Radio, program [?]; 1959 / Pacific Radio KPFK, Los Angeles; 1960

Bal de la Victoire, ballet; British Broadcasting Corporation – BBC TV, “Music for You”; 1960

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

Isadora, ballet; Grenada TV, UK; 1982


British Broadcasting Corporation – presentation of a dialogue in which Kay discusses his work with the ballet critic and author Nigel Gosling; BBC Radio, Network Three, “New Comment”, a weekly review of the arts; 1965Norddeutscher 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