John Elvery Archive


John Elvery (1939 - 1997) was a theatre designer who spent the majority of his career based in the city of Bristol.

After originally training as a dancer with Ballet Rambert, he went onto Wimbledon College of Art to study Theatre Design. His early design work included stints at theatres in Liverpool, Coventry and the Nottingham Playhouse, as well as working as a freelance designer. Between 1972 and 1986, he was Head of Design at Bristol Old Vic, where he produced an extensive collection of artwork .

John Elvery's work covered a wide range of theatre design, most notably pantomime. He established a trademark of commitment to period detail and accuracy, effortlessly moving from abstract, minimalist sets to pantomime glitter. His skill as an artist can also be seen in some of the tromp l'oeil murals that he painted in buildings throughout Bristol. He also taught design at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School.

What the collection holds

The John Elvery archive contains original artwork for costume and set designs for over forty productions, including set models, production photographs, as well as personal photographs. His eye for detail and accuracy can be observed throughout the collection and provides inspiration for any aspiring theatre designers.

This collection is being repackaged, conserved and catalogued as part of Bristol Old Vic's "Protecting and Sharing the Heritage of Britain's Oldest Theatre" project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. Several other collections related to the Bristol Old Vic are held at the University of Bristol's Theatre Collection and Bristol Archives. These will also be catalogued as part of the project between 2017 and 2020.

The online catalogue for this collection can be viewed here: 
JE - John Elvery Archive

It is currently only partially catalogued so please contact us for further information regarding its contents and access.


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