John Furnival studied at the Royal College of Art from 1957–60. In the 60s and 70s he taught at Gloucestershire College of Art and at the Bath Academy of Art, Corsham. In 1964, he and Dom Sylvester Houédard began the seminal concrete poetry press, Openings, which published Augusto de Campos, Richard Kostelanetz, Ian Hamilton Finlay, Tom Phillips, Edwin Morgan, Houédard, Furnival and others. In 1965 he was included in the “First International Exhibition of Experimental Poetry” as well as the “Between Poetry and Painting” exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (London), curated by Jasia Reichardt.
John Furnival’s essential role and his many contributions to the international concrete poetry movement is reflected by his inclusion in nearly all survey exhibitions and reference works on the genre.
Furnival has also been an active participant in the international mail art movement since the 60s as well as a frequent collaborator with his many artist and writer friends including Ian Hamilton Finlay and Henri Chopin. Perhaps his best-known collaboration was with Jonathan Williams, which resulted in, among other projects, “Letters to the Great Dead,” an expansive text/image series of prints begun in the early 1980s and completed only after Williams’s death in 2008.
The archive is sold.