A large audience gathered at St Augustine’s Hall to hear Dr Graham Witham give a fascinating talk, accompanied with numerous slides, on artist and print maker, Edward Wadsworth, known to the people of Bexhill as the artist who designed the De La Warr Pavilion mural.
This mural was in response to a request from Serge Chermayev in 1935 to provide something to “decorate and fore-shorten” the restaurant of the Pavilion which Chermayev described as “a long, corridor like room”.
Wadsworth created a design and early sketches for the piece, but due to another commission for him to paint two murals for the ocean liner Queen Mary, he was unable to complete the final mural and a fellow artist Charles Howard took over the completion of the work.
Wadsworth trained at The Slade School of Art at the same time as Paul Nash, Ben Nicholson, Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth, along with many more famous British artists.
He visited Paris after leaving the Slade and was much influenced by what he saw there, being particularly taken with The Fauves (Matisse etc) and their work with bright colours.
In 1913 Wadsworth was briefly involved with the Omega Workshops, and with Percy Wyndham-Lewis in 1914, set up The Rebel Art Centre, a short-lived art movement, and out of this collaboration Vorticism was born.
In the First World War, Wadsworth volunteered for the Royal Navy and became a Sub-Lieutenant in the RNVR.
He was one of 18 artists who were asked to work on methods of camouflage to help reduce the loss of shipping by U-boat attacks, and this became known as The Dazzle Scheme, and over 4,000 merchant ships and 400 RN ships were painted with dazzle camouflage, to good effect and shipping losses were greatly reduced.
The audience also learnt about Wadsworth’s private life, including his marriage and his reputation as a ladies man and the many extra-marital relationships he had.
He continued painting for the rest of his life, including some work for I.C.I. He died in 1949.
The lecture season now takes a seasonal break and will resume on 04 February with a talk on the Winchelsea poor.