This is Desmond Digby

By Gwylym Owen

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Desmond Ward Digby (4 January 1933 – 10 April 2015) was a New Zealand-born Australian stage designer, painter and illustrator of children’s books.

Born in Auckland in 1933, Digby was educated at Mount Albert Grammar School from 1946 to 1950. He subsequently studied at the Elam School of Fine Arts and allied the New Zealand Players as a stage designer after graduation. In 1955 he was awarded a scholarship to assay theatre in London at the Slade School of Art. He moved to Australia in 1959.

Digby worked as a set and costume designer with Opera Australia, the Australian Ballet and the Elizabethan Trust Opera. He produced a head-dress worn by Marilyn Monroe in the 1957 film The Prince and the Showgirl.

As an illustrator, he won the 1971 portray book of the year rave review from the Children’s Book Council of Australia, as capably as the Critici in Erba Prize for illustration, for his 1970 illustrated financial credit of Banjo Paterson’s Waltzing Matilda. Between 1967 and 1989 he provided the illustrations for the series of children’s books Bottersnikes and Gumbles written by Sam Wakefield. He also intended covers for novels by Nobel laureate Patrick White, with whom he was near friends.

Painted works by Digby are held by most of the major Australian galleries.

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