A new exhibition at the Richard Saltoun Gallery in London presents a series of Dom Sylvester Houédard’s ‘typestracts’ that he created between 1963 and 1975 using an Olivetti Lettera 22 typewriter.
Curated by Kingston University’s Andrew Hunt, the show represents the first “substantial presentation of the artist in almost five decades”, say the gallery, and aims “to reinstate the importance of Houédard as a key figure of the counter-cultural and transnational art movements of the 1960s and early 1970s”.
While interest in Houédard’s art has increased in recent years, thanks in part to Occasional Papers’ Notes from the Cosmic Typewriter, its accompanying event and continued research into his life and work, he is still a relatively unknown figure and little of his work has been exhibited in public.
In 2012, Rick Poynor wrote about his approach on designobserver.com, noting the links between Houédard’s art and graphic design (not least via an appearance in Typographica journal in 1963) and that same year the artist was profiled by Alice Rawsthorn in the New York Times.
Adding to the intrigue around his own practice is Houédard’s life as a Benedictine monk at Prinknash Abbey near Gloucester, where he was able to combine his art practice with written works on philosophy and spirituality. As an artist, he would sign works ‘dsh’ – and his discrete initials can be found in the corner of many examples of what became known as ‘typewriter art’.
In the 1960s Houédard showed at the ICA in London, his work was championed by the Signals Gallery’s Guy Brett and he received a retrospective in 1971 at the V&A Museum. When he died in 1992, Houédard’s estate was bequeathed to The John Rylands Library of The University of Manchester.
A catalogue of the work included in the new show is also available, published by the gallery and Ridinghouse.
Dom Sylvester Houédard: Typestracts runs from May 26 until July 14 at the Richard Saltoun Gallery in London. See richardsaltoun.com