A life in the arts




Keith Michell - A Life in the Arts (2016)


Born in Adelaide, South Australia in 1928, Keith pursued a career in the fine arts before following his dream to move to London to take up a place at the esteemed Old Vic Theatre School. Keith’s career as an actor, singer, designer and director spanned six decades and set the bar for a whole generation of performers. From critically acclaimed Shakespearean roles with Sir Laurence Olivier’s Old Vic Theatre Company, through starring roles in hit musicals such as Robert & Elizabeth, Man of La Mancha and Irma La Douce in the West End and on Broadway, he would forever be associated with his iconic portrayal of the king in The Six Wives of Henry VIII, a seminal television series which aired in 1970.

Keith chose his mixed media self-portrait as Henry VIII to be the poster for this retrospective exhibition, a celebration of his parallel career as a gifted fine artist.

Many of the paintings, lithographs, drawings and artist proofs included were sold into private collections, and Keith (who died November 2015), chose to exhibit at the Menier Gallery in support of their ‘Paintings in Hospitals’ incentive.

The V&A acquired a number of works and personal items for its archive, and Keith's Shakespeare Sonnets lithographs can be found in the Tate Britain Works on Paper Archive and on display at the Globe Theatre Southbank