Gregg Latchams has advised the University of Bristol Theatre Collection on its acquisition of the Oliver Messel Archive for £100,000.
Oliver Messel (1904-1978) was one of the foremost stage designers of the 20th century, famed for his flair with materials and meticulous attention to detail. In later life, he became a renowned architect and interior designer on the Caribbean islands of Mustique and Barbados, where he died at the age of 74. The archive of his work comprises everything from costumes and masks through to letters, paintings and architectural, film and stage plans.
Gregg Latchams assisted the University of Bristol Theatre Collection, one of the world’s largest archives of British theatre history, by preparing an agreement to secure a loan of the Oliver Messel Archive with an option to purchase it from the artist’s nephew, Thomas Messel. Thanks to a substantial grant from the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF) alongside the Noel Coward Foundation, Friends of the National Libraries and support from the University’s alumni and friends, the archive will now find a home within the Theatre Collection’s accredited museum. The University now hopes to raise the money required to catalogue and conserve the archive.
Ed Boal, who advised the Theatre Collection, comments:
“Whilst admittedly I know very little about British theatre history, I was fortunate to be given a private viewing of the archive by the Theatre Collection’s director, Jo Elsworth. It was only when I saw the archive that I realised what an important contribution Oliver Messel had made to his field and the importance of conserving his work and making it accessible to both academics and the general public. I very much hope that the University will now be able to secure to the funds required to ensure that this archive can be celebrated and enjoyed by the wider public.”