Who was Eric Gill? Man arrested after attack on BBC's Broadcasting House statue

A man has been arrested on suspicion of criminal damage after scaling the entrance of the BBC broadcasting center to vandalize a statue by artist Eric Gill.

The man attacked the statue depicting Ariel and Prospero from William Shakespeare’s play The Tempest yesterday (12 January) and was arrested at around 8.45pm. Another man was also arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit property damage.

Eric Gill is considered one of Britain’s greatest artists, but he was also a predatory pedophile. As such, he was the source of ongoing controversy and debate.

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Who Was Eric Gil?

Eric Gill was an artist, sculptor, typeface designer, and graphic designer. His reputation was badly damaged by posthumous revelations about his pedophilia.

Gill was born in Brighton in 1882 and died in 1940 aged 58. He is the creator of Gill Sans, a typeface used for many years by UK railway companies and London Transport, and adopted by the BBC as their corporate typeface in 1997.

Gill’s sculptures of Ariel and Prospero feature prominently at the BBC’s Broadcasting House in London. He was commissioned to make them for the Art Deco building in 1932.

Another well-known Art Deco building with work by Gill is the Midland Hotel in Morecambe, which includes two Portland stone seahorses, a bas-relief and paintings.

Gill’s sex crimes were first exposed in a 1989 biography of him written by Fiona MacCarthy which – with reference to Gill’s own private diaries – revealed that he had sexually abused two of his daughters and sisters and had engaged in sexual acts on his dog.

Since MacCarthy’s book was published more than 30 years ago, there has been ongoing controversy about Gill and whether his work can be separated from his crimes.

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