Desmond Jeffery: Type and Space

The gallery at Bristol’s Spike Island centre is to show work by British letterpress printer and typography teacher, Desmond Jeffery, in an exhibition opening next month

Political flyer, 1959. Image courtesy Sally Jeffery

The gallery at Bristol’s Spike Island centre is to show a selection of work by British letterpress printer and typography teacher, Desmond Jeffery, in an exhibition opening next month…

Since his death in 1974, Jeffery’s work has received recognition in only a handful of design books; namely, in an essay in Hyphen Press’ Modern Typography in Britain, and in a book dedicated to his work, Late Letterpress, published to coincide with a retrospective at the St. Bride Library in 2009.

As a returning serviceman in 1950, Jeffery was directly influenced by the hand-set letterpress work of the typographer, Anthony Froshaug. Jeffery managed to get hold of an Adana Press and initially began to print work from the back room in his mother’s house in New Malden.

By 1956 he had set up a full letterpress workshop in Marylebone in London, complete with a Heidelberg Platen press. Having gained experience printing posters, invitations and letterheads, he now began to collaborate with galleries, architects, orchestras, and leftist societies.

The show at the Spike Island gallery will include posters, prints and cards made for Robert Erskine and his St. George’s Gallery; as well as more political pieces such as those for the Partisan coffee house in Soho, and the Solidarity group (Jeffery printed its manifesto in 1968).

This is will be a rare and rewarding chance to see a good selection of Jeffery’s beautiful letterpress work.

Desmond Jeffery: Type and Space is on at Spike Island, 133 Cumberland Road, Bristol BS1 6UX, from October 20 to 28 and is part of the centre’s fourth Book and Zine Fair (which takes place on Saturday October 20). This year the fair focuses on design and experimental publishing. The Jeffery exhibition is curated by Sally Jeffery, Charlotte Hetherington and Jono Lewarne. More at spikeisland.org.uk.

Gallery card, 1960. Image courtesy Sally Jeffery

The small letter, type specimen book, 1956. Image courtesy Sally Jeffery

Exhibition catalogue, Partisan coffee house, 1959. Image courtesy Sally Jeffery

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