Our Statement on Eric Gill
Our statement addressing 20th century sculptor Eric Gill’s legacy and abusive behaviour.
Content warning: The following statement contains references to sexual abuse.
Eric Gill is one of the most prolific and well-known 20th-century sculptors, a multi-disciplinary artist who also worked in print and typography. His influence and the quality of his work is evident across a range of media including familiar typefaces, public buildings, churches, war memorials and funerary monuments.
A 1989 biography of Gill revealed that he had sexually abused members of his family, something which he detailed in his own writings. Historic England unreservedly condemns abusive behaviour. The revelations about Gill have led to a difficult re-examination of the artist and his work. Gill’s skill was recognised through Listing for several decades before his abuse became public knowledge and it is possible that we will continue to receive applications to list further sites that include his work. As an organisation we have a duty to recognise Gill’s established reputation as an artist and to be open about what we have learned about his personal behaviour, which is why we have taken the decision to link to this statement from each entry on the National Heritage List for England which references him in due course.
We have a responsibility to protect and champion England’s built heritage, but also to provide suitable interpretation where there are connections to people whose behaviour or values are a source of great pain for many people and challenge how society perceives their work. For more information about our approach, please see our other contested heritage pages.