Barry is an Oscar and BAFTA nominated director usually, but not exclusively, working with animation, especially puppet animation. He has been involved, mainly through Cosgrove Hall, with many series and programmes for television such as Rainbow, Chorlton and the Wheelies, The Pied Piper of Hamelin, The Wind in the Willows, Rupert Bear, Postman Pat, and Bob the Builder, either as animator or director. He has worked in significant roles on such feature films as Mars Attacksand King Kong, and directed over 60 commercials and titles sequences, including a recent campaign for Marketing Manchester.
His own, very theatrical, and often controversial, films have won more than sixty awards around the world, and many festivals have held retrospectives. These films are Next, (the complete works of Shakespeare in five minutes); Screen Play (the Willow Pattern story told through Kabuki), a version of Verdi’s Rigoletto,Achilles (a very adult retelling of the Iliad), Gilbert and Sullivan, (using their words and music to retell of their stormy relationship) and Hamilton Mattress (a film about an aardvark’s attempt to survive in the corrupt world of showbiz!). These films have been released on a compilation DVD called Barry Purves – his intimate lives. The films are known for their innovation, passions, elegance, lush visuals and fresh interpretations of familiar subjects.
Two further films have recently been released. A 14 minute stop motion dramatic film, called Plume, (2010) was produced by Dark Prince in France. The second, the melancholy Tchaikovsky – an Elegy,(2011) was produced through the Russian company, Studio M.I.R. Barry also made a film with the animators at Staffordshire University based on Britten’s Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra.
In 2013 Barry directed 52 episodes of a children’s series called Toby’s Travelling Circus, screened on Channel Five. From 2014 – 2017 Barry was supervising director on 100 episodes of Ragdoll’s hugely successful new production ‘Twirlywoos’ for the BBC.
The last year has seen Barry being president and on the jury of many festivals, and having retrospectives around the world. Barry also animated the title sequence for a recent animation festival in Seoul.
Barry’s first book, ‘Stop Motion – passion process performance’ was released in 2007, by Focal Press. Using animation and a variety of puppet techniques as the catalyst, it looks at the creative process of many media. A second book, Animation Basics – Stop motion was released in March 2010 by AVA Publishing, and was aimed at students and first time animators and has been translated into several languages. This was updated and expanded for a second edition in 2014
Away from film Barry works in theatre when he can, this being another true passion. In the last few years he has directed and designed ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’, ‘The Turn of the Screw’, Jekyll and Hyde’, several Ayckbourns, ‘la cage Aux Folles’, ‘The Ritz’, ‘Habeas Corpus’, Ronald Harwood’s ‘Quartet’, the farce ‘ Don’t Dress for Dinner’ as well as designing a huge panto, Aladdin, for Peterborough. Recently he designed ‘A Man for all seasons’ , then a new musical by Mal Pope, ‘Cappuccino Girls’, and ‘Murder Mystery Musical’ for the Edinburgh Festival in 2009, which received several 5 star reviews. In 2011 Barry directed and designed High Society, and in 2012 he directed and designed Sherlock Holmes and then designed Elton John’s Aida and the wonderful Glorious. In 2014 he directed and designed Hitchcock Blonde and designed Gypsy. In the last couple of years Barry has directed Breaking the Code, the opera Il Trovatore, Brief Encounter, Ladies in Lavender, and designed Romeo and Juliet, The Secret Garden.
Barry teaches and gives master classes at studios and colleges all over the world, including running regular courses at the National Film and Television School and the National Film school of Italy (animation department) and is often on festival juries, judging or curating screenings. Barry has also provided the voice over for many student animation films. Barry also is in demand for hosting awards evenings and after dinner speaking. In the last few years Barry has given workshops all round the UK as well as in Italy, France, Poland, Morocco, Russia, Ireland, Canada, Germany, Czech, Estonia, Brazil, Greece and Argentina.
Barry has also taught ‘writing for Performance’ at Manchester University, where he was originally a drama student, and was invited back this year to teach Animation to the drama department. His own play, written with Emil Wolk, ‘The Eight Wonder’ may hopefully get produced. This looks at the making of the original King Kong through the eyes of Ginger Rogers and Fay Wray. A second play treatment, Handel and Lewis, has just been written for Liverpool Scenic Workshops – this involves a young opera loving boy and a live 25 foot robot. Several other feature film treatments and play ideas are being written.
Barry’s films are discussed at length in many books, including those written by Ray Harryhausen, Clare Kitson and Paul Wells, as well as being studied on most animation courses.
Apart from the awards directly linked to his films Barry has been awarded an Outstanding Achievement Award from Stoke Your Fires Festival in Stoke, an honorary Doctorate from Staffordshire University in 2011, the hugely prestigious John Owens Award from Manchester University in 1995, and this year the Golden Dinosaur award from a Polish Film festival, for artists who give their time to students. Barry’s film ‘Screen Play’ was voted 40th best animated film of all time by a recent ASIFA poll of professionals. In 2013 Bournemouth University and the Brazil Stop Motion Festival awarded Barry a lifetime achievements award, and in 2014 he received a prestigious Romics d’Oro from Rome. Barry was made a Fellow of UCLAN in 2017.