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Creative Dialogue Across the Ocean E-mail
Written by Michael LeBlanc   

screen_shot01Justina Chong at McMaster University has transcribed a collection of letters from Eric Aldwinckle to Harry Somers, and wrote a case study detailing her findings:

Aldwinckle's letters to Harry Somers and Ruth Somers (Harry's mother) poetically explore his experience as an agent of creativity in his various roles: as mentor to the blossoming Harry, as a writer acutely aware of his reader, and as an artist struggling to express the strange dynamic of war while meeting the demands of his higher-ups. Sixteen years Harry Somers' senior, Aldwinckle's close friendship with Somers seems unlikely at first. However, this collection of 31 of his letters reveals the fundamental principle underlying their relationship: a love for truth, beauty, and ideals – in other words, the creative experience.

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Eyeless In Gaza E-mail
Written by Michael LeBlanc   
Eyeless In Gaza :: Watercolour, 28.3 x 35.2cm, 1944 [original is in colour]

A poetically-titled work from Eric's Normandy sojourn is “Eyeless in Gaza,” a rendering of a disabled German “Würzburg” radar dish. The title is the most quoted phrase from John Milton’s “Samson Agonistes,” a reference to the biblical Samson, enfeebled and blinded through Delilah’s treachery and held in captivity in Gaza. Aldous Huxley also wrote a book by the same name in 1936. On the back of the picture, Eric suggested an alternative title: “The Broken Eardrum.”

Damaged German Würzburg Radar in Normandy :: Photo by Eric Aldwinckle (collection of Margaret Bridgman)

The engineered fabrications of war’s new technologies intrigued Eric, but they were so new and so secret that exhibition to the public was not allowed until a year and a half after the end of the war in Europe. They were declared “NOT TO BE EXHIBITED OR REPRODUCED FOR SECURITY REASONS.” This was a source of considerable frustration for Eric, who watched his fellow War Artists as they were repatriated and organized exhibitions of their (unclassified) work. Unfortunately for Eric, by the time some of these pictures made public, interest in the war and war art had evaporated.

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Eric Painting “Mustangs in Readiness” E-mail
Written by Michael LeBlanc   
Mustangs in Readiness :: Watercolour, 38.7 x 56.5cm, 1943 (War Museum of Canada)

This watercolour, “Mustangs in Readiness,” in the Museum of Civilization's collection, is Eric's 1944 depiction of Mustang fighters in England ready to intercept the enemy. In her collection of Eric's work Margaret Bridgman has a photograph of Eric standing at an easel working on this painting. Taken at face value, this photo depicts Eric completing the painting, although it could have been staged after the fact. This is not to say that Eric did not work al fresco; a clipping of a Toronto Star article by Gregory Clark (“War Artist Finds Out Eyes On Him All Time,” 1944), mentions Eric's backpack which contained a camera, paints, and water bottle, along with a hinged easel.

Eric Aldwinckle painting “Mustangs in Readiness” :: Collection of Margaret Bridgman

This photograph was in Eric's possession when he passed away in 1980, and this collection of photographs, drawings and other work was given to the care of his neice, Margaret Bridgman. They provide insights into Eric's work and methods that are missing from the collection of completed work and archives in the Crown's possession.

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The Moveless Latch (1944) E-mail
Written by Michael LeBlanc   

moveless_latchEric was fascinated by the ingenuity that both sides of the conflict expressed in the Allied landing preparations and the German fortifications. The title of the watercolour “The Moveless Latch” is from a John Masefield sonnet. It calls to mind the immense waste of time, energy and material involved in the construction of these edifices.

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Invasion Pattern, Normandy (1944) E-mail
Written by Michael LeBlanc   

10679-1While in Normandy, Eric flew over the landing beaches and was able to study the marks and colours as seen from the air. His friendships with the photo interpreters in the Reconnaissance Squadron enabled him to acquire photographs of the area for reference. The result of this research, executed much later in his studio in London, is “Invasion Pattern, Normandy” Eric’s finest picture of his war years and one of the best known of Canada’s war art collection.

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Buy the Book

Nothing Uninteresting book cover

Now available at Blurb.com.

Nothing Uninteresting

The Work and Life of Eric Aldwinckle

By Michael B. LeBlanc

Print Book, 186 Pages

CAD$36.67

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I neglected to mention that the confusion of modern art lies chiefly in the fact that for one artist there are many charlatans and that until you acquire enough knowledge to be able to discriminate it will be confusing.

All that is exhibited is not necessarily good.

Some are well done with a vicious content.

Some are as deep as walking on the hands down the main street...