Kenneth Rowell: Designer for the Stage

Exhibition at the National Library of Australia




National Library of Australia

Characters and productions come alive through design.  

The National Library of Australia's new Collection-in-Focus exhibition highlights the work of Melbourne-born painter and designer Kenneth Rowell (1920-1999). He lived and worked as an artist and theatre designer in London from 1952, frequently returning to work in Australia until 1982 when he moved back to Melbourne. 

Rowell’s costume design archive comprises of about 1,400 designs for costumes and sets, as well as notebooks, sketchbooks, programs and photographs. It documents 87 productions he worked on between 1943 and 1993, often in collaboration with his wife, Victoria, who painted the fabric of his costumes.  

While Rowell almost always designed both costume and set designs for a production, this exhibition showcases a selection of hand-drawn costume designs, as well as other items that give us a sense of his life in the theatre, who he was as an artist and the vast scope of theatre productions he was involved with in his lifetime. 

This exhibition can be seen in the National Library’s Treasures Gallery from Wednesday 29 June. Entry to the Gallery is free and no bookings are required. 

Kenneth Rowell: Designer for the Stage was curated by Dr Susannah Helman, National Library Curator of Rare Books and Music.

Kenneth Rowell on Trove

Enjoy these Rowell-related items on Trove:

magazine pages showing an article about Kenneth Rowell and images of him at work
"Keeping an eye on “Tannhauser”, The Bulletin, Vol. 89 No. 4581, nla.obj-704163011