Whatever I was expecting to find in the Guardian yesterday, it certainly wasn’t this.
But thank heavens for the quiet of the New Year, because it allowed them to give almost a whole page to an exhibition in Sheffield of the works of none other than Leonard Beaumont.
Sadly – at least from my point of view – it is not going to be wall-to wall GPO dog illustration. But it’s still very interesting. The exhibition concentrates on Beaumont’s lino etchings – he donated over 80 pieces of work to the Sheffield Art Gallery just before his death.
They’re fantastic bits of Art Deco/Vorticist design, but all the more impressive because it seems that Beaumont was almost entirely self-taught, Working at the Sheffield Telegraph, he produced the prints in the evenings. By 1936, he’d moved to London and stopped making them.
So that’s the exhibition, but. at least from a Quad Royal perspective that’s where the story gets interesting. Because in London he joined Mather and Crowther as a commercial designer, and also worked freelance, producing (according to an interview in the Sheffield Star in 1983) wrappers for Nestle chocolate, posters and stamps for the post office, along with – and this was a surprise to me – the cover for the Festival of Britain catalogue.
Pretty much all I have known of his posters to date, and all the ones I have ever featured on here, have been for the GPO.
Now according to all of the articles, he then went off to Sainsburys in 1950 to sort out their corporate identity, and stayed there until he retired. That he worked for them is certain (here’s Shelf Appeal on his work there). But he was still producing posters for the GPO during the 1950s too – the last one above dates from 1957, and the example below from 1958.
He also produced one of my favourite mad GPO posters ever.
As one of the articles notes, it’s the use of type which distinguishes his work. To which I would also add the use of collaged photos and graphics together. For a self taught man, he was a very adept modernist.
Anyway, the upshot of all of this is that I can make a very confident prediction that I will be turning up in Sheffield at some point in 2013. The exhibition runs until September, so there’s plenty of time to make that come true.