Friday, 2 June 2017

DOM SYLVESTER HOUÉDARD : Typestracts at Richard Saltoun Gallery

Dom Sylvester Houédard, Benedictine monk, artist, poet, theologian and...beatnik? No, but so enamoured with that scene as to write in the style of Kerouac's spontaneous bop prosody with a taste for ee.cummings' lower case to the point of signing and being referred to as 'dsh'. Today his 'typestracts', as named by poet Edwin Morgan, may appear fashionably retro being produced on an Olivetti Lettera 22 but at the time, we should remember, concrete poetry was avant-garde; an obscure alternative to ordinary art modes, poetry or fiction. Perhaps the Beat connection is not so extraordinary considering Kerouac and Ginsberg's propensity towards the 'holy', albeit from the viewpoint of a lifestyle that was anything but monastic. This exhibition at the Richard Saltoun Gallery is small but offers a very rare opportunity to see Houédard's work. I took a few photos to give you a flavour of what was on show. The book Notes from the Cosmic Typewriter: The Life and Work of Dom Sylvester Houedard is worth getting although it's shot up in price since I bought a copy when it was published.

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