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Front cover: Dazzle Ships in Drydock, Liverpool 1919 – Edward Wadsworh  National Gallery of Canada Ottawa

Wadsworth was born on 29 October 1889 in Cleckheaton, West Yorkshire, and was educated at Fettes College in Edinburgh. He studied engineering in Munich between 1906 and 1907, where he studied art in his spare time at the Knirr School. This provoked a change of course, as he attended Bradford School of Art before earning a scholarship to the Slade School of Art, London. His contemporaries at the school included Stanley Spencer, CRW Nevinson, Mark Gertler, Dora Carrington and David Bomberg.

Wadsworth's work was included in Roger Fry's second Post-Impressionism Exhibition at the Grafton Galleries, 1912, in London, but he changed allegiance shortly after through friendship with Wyndham Lewis, and exhibited some futurist-derived paintings at the Futurist Exhibitions at the Doré Gallery. He was a signatory of the Vorticist Manifesto published in BLAST the next month.

A Vorticist Exhibition, June 1915 at the Doré Gallery was followed by a second edition of BLAST published to coincide with the show. Wadsworth contributed to both, but signed up for the navy shortly after. His fellow vorticist Henri Gaudier-Brzeska was killed at the front and Bomberg and Lewis found that their belief in the purity of the machine age was seriously challenged by the realities of the trenches. Wadsworth spent the war in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve on the island of Mudros until invalided out in 1917, transferring dazzle camouflage designs onto allied ships. Always a fan of modern ships, Wadsworth was to utilise nautical themes in his art for the rest of his career.

After the major painting Dazzle-ships in Drydock at Liverpool, 1919, Wadsworth moved away from the avant-garde in the 1920s, and adopted a more realistic style. Towards the end of his life his work became increasingly strange and surreal, although Wadsworth never had any formal links with the official Surrealist movement.