Fundraising drive for Eric Gill archive is successful

A substantial archive of material relating to artist Eric Gill has returned home to Ditchling, where Gill established the Guild of Catholic craftsmen that brought him fame. Art Fund supported Ditchling Museum's fundraising drive with a £14,000 grant.

Funding also came from The Heritage Lottery Fund, the V&A Purchase Grant Fund and the Pilgrim Trust.

Gill came to Ditchling in 1907. In 1913 he moved to Ditchling Common where he established a guild of Catholic craftsmen with the printer and founder of the St Dominic’s Press, Hilary Pepler and the artist Desmond Chute.

The founding of the Guild established Ditchling’s place in the 20th-century crafts movement and brought many other artists and craftsmen to Ditchling including the painter David Jones.

Eric Gill grew up in Brighton where the family home was close to the railway, which provided much scope for the young artist. The collection now at Ditchling Museum comprises over four hundred items with most of Gill’s childhood drawings of the railway, his drawings of the Downs, extensive correspondence, photographs, drawings from life, bookplates and many wood engravings.

It also includes almost every book, in multiple editions, illustrated or written by Gill, and much memorabilia and print of the St Dominic’s Press.

The collection was collated throughout his lifetime by Gill’s younger bother Evan. Evan Gill’s wish was that the collection be kept together and finally find a home in the public domain. His particular hope was that it should remain in Britain, or at least in Europe, where it would be accessible to scholars and other interested parties.

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