Michael Harvey – In His Own Words will feature teaching aids, notebooks, drawings and book cover designs from throughout Harvey’s 60-year career, which began in the 1950s when he found a summer job with Eric Gill’s first apprentice, Joseph Cribb.
After serving an apprenticeship with engraver Reynolds Stone, Harvey went on to design over 1500 book jackets for publishers Hodder & Stoughton, MacMillan, Chatto & Windus, Hamish Hamilton, Methuen and The Bodley Head, working on novels by Graham Greene, James Joyce and Norman Mailer. He also created several memorials, including a headstone for poet laureate Cecil Day-Lewis and an 18-inch frieze for the National Gallery in London.
In the 1960s, Harvey began teaching at Bournemouth and Poole College until practical lettering was no longer a core part of the syllabus. He returned to education in the 1990s, working at the University of Reading, where he encouraged students to get away from their computers and work with traditional lettering tools. His work wasn’t just limited to analogue type, however – he also designed typefaces for Monotype and Adobe including Ellington, Conga Brava, Moonglow, Braff, Jazzbo and Zoot (named after famous jazz players and songs) and in 2000, he established FineFonts with type designer Andy Benedek, releasing Victorian, Gothic and brush script fonts as well as designs based on his friezes and book jacket lettering.
Harvey was made an MBE for services to art in 2001 and in 2012, published an illustrated memoir of his life and work, titled Adventures with Letters. His work remains less widely known among the general public than other leading type designers – but curator Nicholas Sloan says he hopes the exhibition will help educate visitors about Harvey’s many achievements. “This should be one of those exhibitions about people who were at the top of their game, but only really known to others in the same field: a compact personal retrospective. I’d like people to go away saying ‘Wow, what a cracking draughtsman; how come I never heard of him?’” says Sloan.
Michael Harvey – In His Own Words opens at the Lettering Arts Centre, Snape Maltings, Suffolk IP17 1SP on March 25 until May 28. Admission is free. For details, see letteringartstrust.org.uk