A review by dangermouse 361
Tom Eckersley: Master of the Poster Exhibition Opening time: Friday 11-29 January 2014, 11am -5pm M-Sat This exhibition hosted at the ‘Street Space’ of the London College of Communication pays homage to the life and works of the acclaimed Graphic Designer, the late Tom Eckersley whose beginnings can be traced back to non other than LCC itself. Comprising of a showcase of his life and works and which also marks the centenary of his birth. A hand picked selection from the UAL archives of his most iconic work takes centre stage at the institution that he was instrumental in establishing. A historically well-respected figure within the institution he was responsible for starting the first Graphic Design Course in 1954 when the venue was a mere college known as the London College of Printing prior to its transition to a University.
Eckersley put Graphic Design on the map, metaphorically speaking sharply distinquishing it from commercial art. It comprises of a collage of his life and career charting the impact on his profession as a whole as designer, teacher and trailblazer.
For those unfamiliar with the great poster artist, his artistic career began at Salford School of Art in 1934 where his talent was quickly recognised and duly rewarded with a Heywood Medal for best student. It was not long before he partnered with a fellow student Eric Lombers and they both made tracks to London with the sole intention of becoming freelance poster designers where his new collaborator was to play a key role in this goal. Joint commissions followed shortly after for Eckersley-Lombers as their works proved to be both functional and aesthetic. Their signature was always full sized artwork and hand drawn lettering. Eckersley diversified into teaching making visits to the Westminster School of Art. Their works were culturally recognised as design pieces by the 30s at the pre mass media stage of the 20th Century. His distinctive style capitalised on geometric form, flat graphics emphasizing shape and form as a pose to depth. There was a strong Modernist element emerging in his work. The exhibits are tastefully displayed and arranged charting Eckersley’s major national works from the early 1930s through to the late 80s. The exhibition makes the most of the depth of the space and studio style lighting. Onlookers would be drawn to graphical announcement of his name but this could have been more appropriately and effectively placed on the approach to the galleried space rather than adjacent to the opening of the second room to further clarify the artist or on the back wall enticing the visitor to view the entire exhibition. Overall, it is a reasonably attractive visual essay and taster of the late great artist.