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

Sideline Pursuits – design index


Barry Kay, brush drawing for a silk scarf; commissioned by Zika Ascher, London; the Ascher 'Artists' Squares' project; 51 leading French and English artists participated in the project between 1946 and 1955; two-tone silkscreen print; signed: Barry Kay; labelled: Ascher, 100% pure silk

Ascher Scarf – Neptune

Fashion Accessories

Silk scarf, Zika Ascher "Artists' Squares" project [1]
designed between 1951 and 1953

Two-tone silkscreen print on pure pre-died silk,
produced in seven different background colours

Silk scarf, section



Two Figures depicting a girl and a boy holding a fish; painting brush drawing watercolour by Barry Kay;
                     signed and dated 1953; presumably executed in Melbourne; private UK collection

Two Figures in Swimsuits

Graphics / Paintings

A girl and a boy holding a fish

Brush drawing; watercolour, gouache and
white highlihgting on paper
inscribed: Jo Sammy [? indecipherable] & fish
signed and dated: Barry 53
believed to have beeen created in Melbourne

Private collection, United Kingdom

Watercolour  XL



God Pan with a Pair of Lovers; Daphnis and Chloe; painting by Barry Kay; oil on canvas; signed and dated 1956; executed in Melbourne; private Australian collection

Daphnis and Chloé

Graphics / Paintings

Painting of a pastoral romance
believed to depict Daphnis and Chloé
exhibited at the Peter Bray Gallery, Melbourne
February 1956

Oil on canvas, dated 1956
signed lower left: Barry Kay

Private collection, Australia

Painting  XL



Barry Kay, sketch, drawing, banner design for a street decoration in celebration of the Bath Festival of the Arts, June 1964; 'The Colonnades', Bath Street and mineral water fountain in Bath, Somerset, England

The Bath Festival – Street Banner

Theatre-related Designs

Décor for 'The Colonnades'
Bath, Somerset, England
in celebration of the Bath Festival of the Arts
June 1964

Impromptu sketches drawn recto and verso on a manilla envelope

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One of two drawings, detail   XL



Barry Kay, fig. 1, section, experimental designs to explore different possibilities of illustrating the performing arts throughout the centuries; commissioned by the Victorian Arts Centre in early 1983 and to be hand-woven into tapestries as a permanent fixture in one of the foyers of the State Theatre, Melbourne.

Performing Arts Tapestries

Theatre-related Designs

Barry Kay's designs were intended as permanent installations in one of the foyers of the newly built State Theatre at the Victorian Arts Centre¹ , Melbourne. The four tableaux he created were to be hand-woven into tapestries. To harmonize his designs with their destined environment, he utilized monochrome vintage engravings to attain subtly homogeneous collage compositions illustrating the performing arts throughout the centuries. [2]

Created 24 February 1983 - 19 March 1984

¹ since 2003 known as Arts Centre Melbourne

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Tapestry, figurine & setting,
section of design   XL



Zika Ascher was a Czech artist and designer who became pre-eminent in the related fields of British textiles, art, and fashion. For his 'Artists' Squares' project, running from 1946 to 1955, he invited fifty-one leading French and English artists to participate – among them Barry Kay, who entitled his scarf design Neptune. It was produced in seven different background colours, including versions in café-au-lait, cerise and lavender. The cerise-coloured exemplar features in the comprehensively illustrated book 'Scarves' by Nicky Albrechtsen and Fola Solanka; publisher Thames & Hudson, London & New York; publishing date: March 2011; ISBN-13: 978-0-500-51564-8. >> back to Ascher Scarf


The tapestry designs were commissioned by the Victorian Arts Centre in early 1983. A year later, upon their submission, its Committee however – influenced by in-house intrigues involving the designer John Truscott, as Barry Kay observed, and ostensibly artistically illiterate – engaged in ever more abstruse discussions about the ideas he presented. Unable to reach a conclusion, the Committee eventually abandoned the use of his designs altogether. – See also Biography. >> back to Tapestries


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