An exhibition of Edward Wright’s design work opened yesterday at the Department of Typography in the University of Reading. For two months or so, the public has the chance to see some of the products and working materials of this special man, who in the spirit of the heroic modernists of the earlier twentieth century, did not pay much attention to boundaries between art and design. Yet – he was working in mid-century Britain, and in situations that were often pretty torpid.
Of particular interest, and worth the price of a ticket to Reading, are the sheets of his architectural lettering, made for specific buildings or structures here in the UK. Wright had trained and briefly practised as an architect, and knew about making lettering on buildings with an insider’s feeling for what was possible. The exhibition also shows two of Wright’s wonderful notebooks: seed-beds and testing grounds for all of his production. Elsewhere, there are catalogues (the now famous This is tomorrow), books – from both the trade-publishing and private-production spheres – and quite a few posters. The show is accompanied by a 64-page booklet of texts by and about him (Edward Wright: readings, writings), which is something to get hold of while stocks last. The project takes place within the Department’s Optimism of modernity research project, and is curated by its researcher, Petra Cerne Oven.