To celebrate the arrival of the Jocelyn Herbert Archive (JHA) at the University of the Arts London (UAL) an exhibition, Engagements with Jocelyn: Wimbledon College of Arts meets Jocelyn Herbert was curated by Peter Farley in the Wimbledon Gallery. To accompany the exhibition a symposium, More Engagements with Jocelyn, was held. Speakers, all of whom worked closely with Jocelyn, included Tony Harrison – poet and playwright, Donald Howarth – playwright, Trustee of the George Devine Award and of the John Hodgson Theatre Research Trust, Trish Montemuro company and senior stage manager at the National Theatre and Jenny West artist, teacher and Jocelyn’s daughter.
The novelist and playwright David Storey wrote for the catalogue:
The key to Jocelyn’s contribution to theatre and film design lies in her seminal connection to the Royal Court Theatre from 1956 onwards as well as in her relationship with its originator, George Devine. Before the appearance of this remarkable man there was no National Theatre, no RSC and no fringe. Out of something indistinguishable from a cultural desert Devine created a theatre in which the abrasiveness and vitality of contemporary life could be communicated with immediacy, style and passion to an audience which was unaccustomed if not, initially, resistant to it. The innovative impetus which came to be associated with this theatre was characterised by a humanist ethic an ethic identified with what was organic in human experience as opposed to that which was simply decorative or distracting.
Jocelyn was at the heart of this revitalizing movement all the more remarkable because her creative genius was of a nature which propelled her instinctively into a world which, as she worked within it, constructed its own rules and swiftly acquired its own authority and style. Without this context it would be impossible to ‘place’ her achievements across so many areas of theatre, film and opera design and, incidentally, across so many continents. She exuded a sense of poetry. Linked to it was an extraordinary gift for friendship out of which sprang her appetite for collaboration. Not the least expressive of this was the range of directors, authors, artists and musicians she worked with amongst them many of the seminal figures of their time from Beckett to Osborne, from Wesker to Tony Harrison, amongst the authors; from Tony Richardson to Peter Hall, John Dexter to Lindsay Anderson, amongst the directors.