Page 4, 10th February 1989

10th February 1989
Page 4
Page 4, 10th February 1989 — Taking a fresh look at Gill

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Organisations: Stanford
Locations: Surrey


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Taking a fresh look at Gill

PACE his most recent biographer, Eric Gill still seems to me to be very much an English Catholic artist because he created good art in praise of God in Catholic places, and because he inspired a significant number of followers, before and after his death in 1940, to ..Imulate his outstanding example Since Malcolm Yorke's book Eric Gill: Man of Flesh and Spirit one has been in a position to see through the public attitudes of this dogmatic Catholic convert to the vulnerable sides of Gill's eccentric, unchaste and selfcontradictory nature. Mr Yorke's book suggested the outline of the great struggle between God and sex in Gill's life and art.

Now some eight years later Fiona MacCarthy has added yet another category to Gill's "unpleasant" side — that of "depravity" in the forms of child and animal abuse, Perhaps Gill will be remembered not for his vices, virtues and theories, but for his extraordinary search for the ultimate beauty of God in and through an art whose vigorous products (mainly sculptures and woodcuts) will remain for public contemplation.

J C M Nolan

London W4 WAS it really necessary to print the details of Eric Gills private life, most of which would befit the pages of a "gutter press" tabloid? (January 27). We are constantly bombarded by unacceptable standards of behaviour portrayed by the media — perhaps 1 have been misled into considering it safe to allow my ten year old daughter to read the Catholic Press.

Philippa Burrows Heswall, Wirral I WAS dismayed on reading Peter Stanford's article about Eric Gill (27 January), to learn of his abnormal sexual behaviour. My appreciation and enjoyment of his work has been much diminished.

To my mind, without sexual integrity and maturity, Gill's reconciliation of the erotic and spiritual can no longer be trusted. Rather, it appears that his pen ial obsession made a fetish of genitalia. His reported adultery, incest and bestiality exemplify the biblical insight that idols corrupt and enslave. As a Christian, such idolatry makes his fusion of "religion, sex and art" a failure.

In future, Eric Gill's erotic art will not edify me as a rare affirmation of the goodness and beauty of sex before God, but will instead caution as to its power for sin.

Nicholas Donnelly Wallington, Surrey

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