Theatre Royal Interior & Wallpaper Watercolour Designs - 1977


Theatre Royal Interior & Wallpaper Watercolour Designs - 1977




Colour tests and designs for wallpapers and the interior of theTheatre Royal by designer Clare Ferraby

What's the story?

Born in Leeds in 1938 and trained at the Manchester School of Art, Clare Ferraby has decorated and restored the interiors of some of the UK’s greatest theatres, including the recent massive refurbishment of the Victoria Palace in London.
Ferraby started as a freelance designer in London in 1963 when she was 25, and married Nicholas Thompson, a young architect, who went on to become a leading light of the theatre architect's practice RHWL three years later.
RHWL was commissioned to oversee the rebuilding of the Theatre Royal in the 1970s, following the success of projects at Sheffield Crucible and Warwick Arts Centre.
In a recent interview for The Stage Clare spoke of her craft:

“I’ve always looked at the history of the theatres I’ve worked on. It is important for me to have a feeling for the soul of the building before I develop new ideas. Every theatre has its own distinctive soul. With the older buildings, I look at the detail to understand the original designer’s intention.
The great Victorian theatre architects Matcham, Sprague and Phipps wanted to get everything right and I understand that. You want everything to fall into place and fit together, like a painting.”

As part of the Theatre Royal’s heritage work Nick Thompson & Clare Ferraby kindly loaned us items from their private collection revealing their work on the Theatre Royal.
These are just several images loaned to us by Clare of her watercolour wallpaper designs for the interior of the Theatre Royal auditorium.
Since the 1978 refurbishment it is believed that the Theatre Royal was designed in these green tones to indicate the colours of Nottingham City Council. This ‘fact’ has even been proudly proclaimed on numerous official backstage tours.
On returning to the Theatre Royal in 2018 to discuss her work, Clare was adamant that this was most definitely not the case. The colours of the refurbished Theatre Royal were inspired by William Morris and the Aesthetic Movement from the 1860s to the 1880s, when the Theatre Royal was first built in 1865 through to its first refurbishment by Phipps in 1884. Nothing to do with our civic benefactors.
One of the joys of this archive and heritage project for the Theatre Royal is to correct some of the many myths and ‘fake news’ built up around the venue over the years.


Watercolour paintings

Location of item

Private Collection - Nick Thompson & Clare Ferraby


Private Collection - Nick Thompson & Clare Ferraby


Researcher: June Ellerby


20.5 cm x 13.5 cm