International and Contemporary  |  Modern British/Post War  |  Photography | Archive  | Index

John Furnival

John Furnival (1933-2020) was born in London and studied at Wimbledon School of Art and the Royal College of Art.

Furnival taught for more than thirty years at Bath Academy of Art, Corsham, and took an active role during Bath Academy's influential and innovative era in the 1960s and '70s when it was a creative hub for Concrete Poetry ('visual poetry'). Furnival and fellow artist Tom Phillips were brought in to teach at Bath by the German typographer, printer and publisher, Hansjoerg Mayer. In 1964, Furnival founded Openings Press with a visiting teacher, Dom Sylvester Houédard, and later Furnival had other small presses – Satie's Faction and Openings-Closings – to publish Concrete and Visual Poetry.

Furnival collaborated with Jonathan Williams, and was commissioned by Ian Hamilton Finlay to produce illustrations for Wild Hawthorn Press’s Poor.Old.Tired.Horse. With others in his circle, Furnival took part in the International Exhibition of ‘Experimental Poetry’ in Oxford (1965) and, decades later, in The New Concrete: Visual Poetry in 21st Century at the South Bank Centre (2015).

Furnival described himself as "a drawer; a drawer of landscapes, personages and wordscapes". With his wife Astrid, a textile artist, he lived in Gloucestershire apart from a decade in France from 2002. He exhibited internationally and his work is held in many public collections, including the Arts Council of Great Britain; Tate; the British Council; Getty collection, Los Angeles; Sackner Archive of Concrete and Visual Poetry, Miami; and the British Museum.

The exhibition John Furnival: somewhere between poetry and painting was held at England & Co (8 May-5 June 2010). These pages show a selected archive of his text-related works, including many that were in the exhibition.

Read John Furnival's obituary in the Guardian.

Drawings & works on paper   Prints   


Homo Cyberneticus and Homo Statisticus - Details

Homo Cyberneticus and Homo Statisticus (Variations on Homo Sapiens) 1963
Diptych 42 x 64 inches
Collage with oil and mixed media on relief panel

Private collection

A Mile Down the Nile - Details

A Mile Down the Nile 1974
36 x 33 x 1.25 inches
Ink drawing and mixed media on wood
Ref: JF060
C'est le Golf pour le Golf - Details

C'est le Golf pour le Golf 1974
12 x 48 inches
Ink drawing and mixed media on wood
Ref: JF063
The Man Who Built the Pyramids - Details

The Man Who Built the Pyramids 1973
30 x 39.5 x 1.5 inches
Ink drawing and mixed media on wood
Ref: JF061