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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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The Work and Life of Eric Aldwinckle

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(The war was) an experience I couldn’t buy and I didn’t have to kill people; I just had to paint, excuse the term, the beauty of war, but there wasn’t much beauty in it.

-Eric Aldwinckle, interview with Joan Murray, 1979