Autumn 2023

The creative anarchist

Printer, poet, designer and publisher Dennis Gould interweaves the personal with the political in his clamorous, intuitive letterpress work. By Rick Poynor. [EXTRACT]

Soon after moving to Stroud in Gloucestershire, I was exploring the town, famous for alternative living and thinking, when I noticed an intriguing building next to a roundabout. Its front garden was scattered with children’s toys – it turned out to be a kindergarten – and through the windows I could see shelves and papers suggesting some kind of printing workshop. I resolved to find out more. Soon after this, in a conversation with Simon Esterson and others at New North Press in Clerkenwell, I heard about an eccentric letterpress printer from Stroud called Dennis Gould, who was the subject of a recent documentary (The Last Cuckoo, see review in Eye 103). It was obvious that the printing paraphernalia I had seen must belong to him.

As I soon discovered, if you live in Stroud, it would be hard not to know about Gould. It is no exaggeration to call him a local legend, and people do. Now in his mid-80s, he has been living in the town since 1990, having discovered the area’s beauties while visiting a friend. Every Saturday he can be seen in the Shambles market selling second-hand books and copies of his letterpress prints. Made in Stroud, a shop for local makers, has racks full of his broadsides, posters and self-published booklets of poetry …

Gould designed this poster, based on several of his own poems, during the anti-nuclear protests of the early 1980s. Published by the Freedom Editorial Collective and typeset and printed by Aldgate Press in Whitechapel, 1983. Top. Portrait by Julian Anderson.

Rick Poynor, writer, Eye founder, professor of design and visual culture, University of Reading

Read the full version in Eye no. 105 vol. 27, 2023

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