Set model designed by Judith Cobb for Janis Balodis’, God’s Best Country, Melbourne Theatre Company, 1988
The Australian theatre industry recently lost one of its most respected friends and colleagues, theatre designer Judith Cobb. Writer Michael Girr paid tribute to her yesterday in a moving article in which he described the way ‘her work with playwrights and directors always improved their take on what theatre was meant to achieve’.
During her career Cobb worked with many of Australia’s major theatre companies and respected playwrights including Nick Enright, Hannie Rayson, Joanna Murray-Smith and Andrew Bovell.
Her introduction to design followed hot on the heels of her graduation from a Diploma of Arts (Fashion) at RMIT in 1981. From 1981-1983 Cobb was Assistant Set and Costume Designer at Melbourne Theatre Company before being appointed Resident Designer in 1983 at the age of just 22.
The Performing Arts Collection holds a number of designs created by Cobb during this period including designs for George Bernard Shaw’s Candida (1984) and Barry Dickens’ Reservoir By Night (1985).
In 1988, Cobb left the Melbourne Theatre Company to become a rarely out-of-work freelance designer designing productions for Playbox Theatre, HIT Productions, Sydney Theatre Company, Queensland Theatre Company and Melbourne Theatre Company. During the 1990s she returned to study to pursue a passion for painting and became a teacher at RMIT and the Victorian College of the Arts.
Her legacy will no doubt continue to enliven the work of the many colleagues and students whose work she encouraged and influenced.