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Peter Farley

News, 01 September 2022

Peter Farley


SBTD is very sad to learn of the recent death of Peter Farley.

Peter was well known and loved within theatre, for his work as an educator at Wimbledon College of Art and as an SBTD Director and Committee member. His friends and colleagues are welcome to attend Peter’s funeral in Brighton on 7th September.

Instead of flowers, Peter’s family respectfully suggest donations to the charities MIND or The British Heart Foundation via these links to JustGiving:

JustGiving: MIND
JustGiving: The British Heart Foundation
Peter is fondly remembered in the tribute below by Kate Burnett, SBTD Director and former Honorary Secretary. We welcome you to send us your own memories of Peter, which we will publish as a memorial to him on our website. Please email them to:


Peter Farley remembered by Kate Burnett

I am so sorry to hear of Peter Farley’s death.He was a generous, fair, kind man and a hugely supportive, perceptive and erudite designer, curator and academic. I was lucky enough to experience Peter’s skill and judgement in all of these roles and especially as a professional colleague through his 12 years as a Committee member, Director and Curator for SBTD, as long running Treasurer with ACTD, now PDEC (Performance Design Education Collective), and in his rich career with Wimbledon College of Art as leader of the first UK MA in Scenography from 1996, then as Senior Lecturer and Researcher.

Peter was a rare designer, who had great interest and skill in enabling, interrogating and presenting the work of other designers. From his training at Wimbledon, in the 1970s, his Associate work, especially with Yolanda Sonnabend at the Royal Opera House, through to his most recent teaching and curation, he combined an appreciation for the lyrical and decorative along with perceptive enquiry into contemporary eclectic and abstracted styles. His interview, Gasp and stretch one’s eyes. Richard Hudson in conversation with Peter Farley, for Theatre and Performance Design Volume 1, 2015 – Issue 1-2, is a masterpiece of focused dialogue that elicits fascinating detail of process and approach behind some of the most influential designs of the past 30 years. He wrote many other accomplished pieces for academic and SBTD journals.

Peter was fascinated with the origination of ideas, and how they develop into scenographies. This was integral to his research, with a 2006 Arts and Humanities Fellowship, into the documentation, archiving, exhibition and dissemination of scenographic process, with particular reference to the archive of designer Jocelyn Herbert. He has brought his erudition and richness of enquiry to a range of international curatorial projects, not least the elegant Transformation & Revelation national exhibition for the SBTD, and especially to his teaching, working with grace and humour through his recent years of increasing illness.

Peter was wonderfully supportive as an External Examiner to our Theatre Design team at Nottingham Trent University for two terms of office. He was also funny, wickedly observant and good at choosing battles (or not). I valued all of these qualities enormously at NTU and when I was also curating for the SBTD. I always looked forward to seeing Peter – and often Stefan too, on our various projects and now look back with great affection on meals out and socials in various cities in the UK and abroad on OISTAT and PQ events. I’m sorry there won’t be any more, he leaves a considerable legacy, but also a real absence.

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