» Skip to content

Published: 10 April 2021

By Andy Ross

Article of the Week - number fifty-five - a costume design

John Dronsfield was born in 1900 in England but moved to South Africa in 1939.

A largely self-taught artist, John was discharged from the British Army Cheshire Regiment as physically unfit in 1919 and started to work in the theatre. He was a stage-designer alongside Sybil Thorndike and worked in London as designer and advertising-artist before moving to Cape Town where he developed a reputation for imaginative designs for ballet and drama. He was also a composer, writing incidental music for "The Merry Wives of Windso" and was instrumental in the development of theatre in the country. At the time of his death by suicide in 1951 he had also been published. Amongst his works are some of District Six, the area of Cape Town where enforced removals led to the closure of a once-vibrant city neighbourhood in the apartheid years. 

The piece in the collection is a costume design, simply entitled "A God", created for Sadler's Wells Theatre.