Robert Medley


Robert Medley (1905–94): British artist and theatre designer. Educated at the Byam Shaw School of Art, the Royal Academy Schools, and the Slade School of Fine Art, he met the dancer and choreographer Rupert Doone while studying further in Paris in 1926. In 1932 he and Doone set up the Group Theatre – Medley serving as artistic director – which put on plays by TSE, Auden (who had been Medley’s friend at Gresham’s School in Norfolk), MacNeice and other young poet–playwrights. Doone and Medley lived together until Doone’s death in London in 1966. Having founded the Artists’ International Association in 1937, Medley served the most part of the war as a camouflage officer in Cairo. Later, he taught at the Chelsea Art School, 1945–9, and as Head of the Department of Theatre Design at the Slade School, 1958–66. His work – by turns abstract and figurative – featured in a number of exhibitions, including at the Whitechapel Art Gallery, 1963; and from 1966 he was chair of the Faculty of Painting at the British School in Rome. Appointed CBE in 1963, he was elected to the British Academy in 1985. See Medley, Drawn from the Life: A Memoir (1983); Michael J. Sidnell, Dances of Death: The Group Theatre of London in the Thirties (1984).