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Hector Whistler

Co-editors Anthony Dickins and Tambimuttu, who Geoffrey Grigson appropriately nicknamed ‘Tutti-Frutti’, made an unusual choice when they asked the thirty-four old Hector Whistler to illustrate the debut issue of Poetry early in 1939. Trained at the Slade and the Architectural Association schools, the multi-talented Whistler, who was related to American genius James McNeill Whistler and was cousin to both Rex and Laurence, was better known as a muralist, having, five years earlier, executed some rather unusual wall paintings at the council-owned Aero Café on the Marine Esplanade in Ramsgate.

Alas, the murals, which were supposed to be temporary anyway, were obliterated along with the whole Lido complex on Ramsgate’s waterfront, some time ago, and unlike the more celebrated Vorticist wall decorations by Wyndham Lewis in La Tour Eiffel restaurant, off the Tottenham Court Road, which also disappeared, there doesn’t seem to be any record of what they looked like. The curious art lover will just have to look up Whistler’s other decorations for books to imagine what holidaymakers and the residents of Thanet lost when the despoilers moved in. [RMH]