Eric’s eye on the past

AN EXHIBITION spanning the decades features work by Newham-born artist Eric Dawson that has never been seen before.

Called Dawson at Ninety, the display includes drawings, paintings and graphic works from each stage of Eric’s life – from pre-war student at West Ham School of Art and World War Two soldier to his work with some of the world’s top models and photographers in high fashion and advertising.

Linking all these threads of experience are the watercolour paintings created in the last 25 years and which flow from Eric’s memories and his acute and wry observations of the world.

Eric, born in Forest Gate in 1918, attended West Ham School of Art but only started painting in quantity in 1940 during war service with the Rifle Brigade.

He was in the Egyptian desert for 18 months and this gave him a rich and varied pool of memories, which he transferred to paper. Many of these works are now in his wartime collection at the National Army Museum.

After leaving the Army, Eric worked in magazines and advertising but only took up painting pictures of Newham towards the end of his commercial career.

Just a few years ago he produced his illustrated memoirs in a bid to link his paintings with a commentary.

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The result was Looking Back, Growing up in East London, featuring some of Newham’s landmarks, as well as recollections of people in his life.

The current exhibition, at Epping Forest District Museum, Sun Street, Waltham Abbey, Essex, until November 16, features works by Eric loaned from private and public collections, including the National Army Museum, the Newham Museum Service and the Epping Forest museum.

Eric, now in his nineties, continues to paint at his home outside Epping.