Humphrey Spender

Humphrey Spender (British, 1910-2003)

Humphrey Spender was a painter, photographer, architect, designer and teacher. He was the brother of the poet Stephen Spender. He was a fellow of the Society of Industrial Artists and Designers and an honorary designer at the Royal College of Art.

From 1935 to 1941 he worked mainly as a photographer. During the war, after a period in the Tank Corps, he was made War Office Official Photographer which included photo-interpretation of V1 and V2 rocket sites and D-Day invasion maps. After the war he continued to paint and make documentary photographs.

Between 1946 and 1956 he did varied freelance work, including textiles, carpets, wallpapers and murals, winning the Council of Industrial Design awards four times, and between 1956 and 1976 he taught at the Royal College of Art textile school.

Exhibitions of his work have been held at Redfern and Leicester Galleries, New Art Centre and other provincial venues. There were also solo photographic exhibitions, including Arnolfini Gallery, Bristol, retrospective, with tour, in 1982. Among Spender’s widely varied commissions, which included work for the Festival of Britain, British Rail and Shell International, was the design of the Maldon Millenium Embroidery, which he finished in 1990. The Victoria and Albert Museum, Tate Gallery and the Ministry of Works all hold examples of his work.