the Pedophile Founder of Distributism
Eric Gill (1882-1940) was born in Brighton, England, to a minister of a small Protestant sect. He eventually became an artist, well known for his sculptures, engravings, sketches, writings, and type fonts. He married in 1904 and joined the Fabian Socialist Society in 1905. As is noted in Distributist Perspectives, he is one of the founding members of the Distributist worker community at Ditchling, Sussex. It was there that he entered the Catholic Church in 1913. In his lifetime, he would found two more worker communities. He would receive many important and prestigious commissions, including works for Westminster Cathedral, the League of Nations, the BBC, and the London Transport before his death in 1940.|
According to “Crossroads Lay Dominican Fraternities” website, updated by Fr. Jerry Stookey, OP, Promoter General of Dominican Laity (click here), Gill “was, together with other prominent figures like G. K. Chesterton, Hilaire Belloc and Fr. Vincent McNabb, OP, a founder of the Distributist movement.” Stookey also gives a definition of the movement:
“Distributism is an economic and social theory based on Catholic social teaching, regarded as a ‘third way’ between Capitalism and Socialism. It is one of the ideological roots of the Catholic Worker Movement, and has had an indirect influence on the New Economics of E. F. Schumacher and through him on today's Green movement.”
Gill’s articles and ideas are being revived, reprinted and spread by so-called traditional and conservative Catholics. For example, his article “Painting and the Public” was included in the book Distributist Perspectives: Volume 1, Essays on the Economics of Justice and Charity, published by IHS Press in 2004.
But what made Eric Gill famous was principally his art. How could one define his art? I searched the Internet and found answers that were all very similar:
• “Gill’s subject matter swung between the deeply religious and the highly erotic, a direct echo of his eccentric life.” (ericgill.com)
Some readers might think that these critics are exaggerating when they qualified Gill’s life and art as principally erotic. This was also my first reaction. To check, I decided to make a more extensive research. What I found categorically confirms the above-mentioned opinions.
• “Eroticism forms an important part of his work” (ibid.).
• “Present [in Gill’s work] are designs of graphic, erotic scenes which stemmed from his bizarre view of sexual morality” (davidsongalleries.com).
• “[Gill] led a somewhat unconventional and alternative, often monastic lifestyle, including taking on many lovers and producing erotic engravings” (desktoppub.about.com/od/typedesigners/p/eric_gill.htm)
Before pointing out a webpage with his works, I feel it necessary to give a prudent warning. Gill’s drawings are extremely indecent. I don’t recommend that anyone look at them. But since I was making a serious investigation into exactly who Eric Gill really was, I went to a site and analyzed some of his prints. I can assure you that the critics were not exaggerating. The prints contain many nudes, including pornographic and blasphemous ones. For instance, some depict male and female nude saints with their respective halos performing the sexual act; another entitled God Sending shows a naked and sexually aroused Christ descending to earth; yet another entitled Earth Receiving shows what appears to be the same Christ fornicating with a woman, possibly representing the earth.
One of the Gill's blasphemous drawings is
a Christ having sexual relations with an undefined woman saint
It is important to emphasize that this webpage contains just some of Eric Gill’s prints. It doesn’t include any of his sculptures, sketches, carvings, etc. Gill left behind a very large body of work so probably many more erotic “work of arts” can be found.
Catholic modesty does not allow me to reproduce here everything that I found. Nonetheless, I have to show something to demonstrate that I am not making empty statements. I selected only two of his drawings to expose who he is. I apologize if these prints offend anyone, but it is necessary. The same Catholics who, very unwisely, are promoting Gill might say that I am lying or exaggerating if I did not provide evidence and web addresses.
Don’t think that Gill’s depravity is reduced to indecent and blasphemous drawings. According to his biography by Malcolm Yorke (Eric Gill: Man of Flesh and Spirit, London/New York: Tauris Parke Paperbacks, 2000), Gill had the disgusting habit of keeping meticulous, written descriptions of every sexual relation he had and every solitary sin against chastity he committed (p. 30).
In another biography (Eric Gill, London: Faber and Faber Ltd.: 1990), author Fiona MacCarthy reports that his sexual obsessions included adultery, incest, and pedophilia. Gill had sexual intercourse with his two sisters and sexually abused two of his three daughters. Yes, this is what MacCarthy states, and I found no refutations to these statements.
|Naked saints - one male and the other female - touching bodies in a close embrace|
In another biography, also by Fiona MacCarthy (Eric Gill: A Lover’s Quest for Art and God, NY; E. P. Dutton: 1989), his perverse lifestyle is again affirmed. It is eye-opening to read the Editorial Reviews of this book published on Amazon.com:
• Publishers Weekly describes Gill as a “highly sexed creative artist;”
A father and brother like Gill should raise the indignation of Catholics! They should have an equally strong rejection of any of his ideas. It is my opinion that this man should have been removed from society and put in a psychiatric hospital for sex maniacs. It seems absurd that a man with these moral patterns should be accepted and followed as an ideologue who knows what is good or bad for society. Notwithstanding, today we can see, even among Catholics, the name of this depraved father and brother being promoted as a founder of Distributism.
• Library Journal endorses that “Gill flaunted traditional morality by engaging in countless affairs as well as incestuous relationships with both his sisters and daughters. Largely ignored by earlier scholars, these intriguing contradictions are fully explored in this carefully researched and uncensored biography.”
His pedophilia with his daughters became so notorious that some years ago it raised the fury of some English Catholics who could not understand how art works by such a corrupt man could continue to be displayed inside Westminster Cathedral. In fact, a demonstration took place outside the Cathedral to protest the Church authorities’ refusal to remove the Stations of the Cross carved by Eric Gill. According to an article published at the time ("Group Wants Stations Removed," National Catholic Reporter, July 17, 1998), Cardinal Basil Hume and Cathedral authorities did not deny Gill’s perverse lifestyle, but simply suggested that a distinction should be made between his artistic skills and his private life.
Margaret Kennedy, coordinator of a London-based survivor's group, said the purpose of the protest and prayer rally was to pray for Gill's victims and all victims of sexual abuse. "What we object to is that people have to pray in front of a pedophile's art work," Kennedy said. "How can his work be seen as a focus of prayer? To us it seems as if incest is carved on every wall of the Cathedral" (ibid.).
Who wants to follow Gill?
After reading several works of Arthur Penty – another founder of Distributism – and finding that he was a socialist, communist and anti-Catholic (click here), I thought I should look into some of the other members of this little known English movement of the early 20th century. Reading Penty, I felt offended that so-called traditionalist and conservative Catholics were promoting him as a master to build a new Christendom.
Now, after studying Eric Gill, I see that Catholics are also being advised to stomach the terrible morals of a pornographic and blasphemous author. It is incomprehensible that any Catholic would suggest lending an ear to such a filthy creature.
“Like father, like son.” With these two founders, Distributism projects a very bad image of itself.
Posted on May 14, 2005
Related Topics of Interest
Other Moral Pearls of Eric Gill
A Torrent of Pros and Cons on Eric Gill, a Founder of Distributism
Eric Gill, a Precursor of Vatican II
A Distributist Manifesto Strongly Spiced With Communism
Socialism and Distributism in Catholic Clothing
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