Eric Gill's Own Views
am very much honoured by the article in your issue of September 1 and by the prominence
you give it. It is a good rule that. criticism, whether pro or con, should be unanswered by the author or artist concerned, but there are several points in which I think your readers are being misled, so I hope you will allow me to break the rule and make a few comments.
(1) The whole article honours me too personally, thus leading the reader to suppose that who Cid it is almost more Important than what is done.
(2) There is too much talk about " style." Style is something discovered by critics. What the builder is concerned with is the problem and how to solve It. Style can take care of Reda
(3) There is too much concern with esthetic effect—as though a church were built primarily to be looked at. Thus your critic objects to the bricks we used. These are a local product (Norwich) and a good, sound article. They'll tone down very quickly—everything does. Then she talks about the success of the building being " due entirely to the play or Hat surfaces. . . ." From our point of view the success of the building is that, being, by the good will and perspicacity of th. Bishop and his advisers, allowed to build a church with a central altar, we have succeeded in solving the problem of getting a big central space by crossing the arches aind without recourse to anything but plain bricklayers' and carpenters' work. That is the point—the whole point. It is not that the idea of a central altar is " interesting." The point is that it is apostolic; it is a move in the direction implied by Catholic Action. Your readers are misled if they are led to suppose that the thing was done for the looks of it. For the same reason we avoided the medievalism of leaded glass. Why should there be a divorce of domestic from church building?
(4) I agree that the altar is too low. but not that the presence of the tabernacle upon it seriously impedes the assistance of those who are placed facing the priest, Your critic says they " cannot enjoy Mass very well." Good Lord! Nothing is more truly enjoyable than Holy Mass, but that's not the reason for our attendance—it's not a Queen's Hall concert. or a picture show. The real trouble is not the tabernacle but the loading of the altar with flowers and vases and enormous brass candlesticks.
(5) I'm glad your critic approves of the wall painting. It should be mentioned that this is the work of Denis Tegetmeier. But it is not a " decorative design " except in the sense that it is decorous, i.e., seemly, i.e., appropriate, appropriate because apostolic in its meaning.
(6) I am sorry about the electric light boxes. But in my view the electric light is entirely unnecessary, for, as Mgr. John O'Connor says: " You don't go to church to read books." But as they insisted on electric light we put it in those boxes so that it shouldn't glare in people's eyes.
But, Sir, I do thank you very sincerely for the honour you do us, and I only offer these comments because it is most important that people should get hold of the right end of the stick and not be led up an testhetic garden path.
P.S.—I could wish, if names are being mentioned, that that of Mr J. E. Farrell, my partner, also should be given. The ideas may be mine but the success of the actual building is very much his.