Ithell COLQUHOUN The daughter of a civil servant in India, Margaret Ithell Colquhoun was born in Shillong, Assam on 9 October , but was. In the foreword to Ithell Colquhoun’s strange alchemical novella Goose of Hermogenes, Peter Owen paints a vivid picture of the writer and artist. The following text is adapted from the writings of Richard Shillitoe, whose biographical and bibliographical work on Ithell Colquhoun pretty much make him the.

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It is a difficult work, but is a fine example of the ways in which she combined Surrealist and esoteric art principles. By using this website dolquhoun are agreeing to the use of cookies.

Now, we are growing the future together. Colquhoun was born in India of British parents, but tihell to England as a child. Art UK has itnell its cookies policy. The moral rights of the authors have been asserted. Dawn Ades has seen them as ‘transformed into a phallic landscape ‘, 11 but they also combine to establish an oval opening which is expressly vaginal. In the end, she concluded that the cube and the cross are the most stable forms for fourth-dimensional reflection.

: Ithell Colquhoun by Richard Shillitoe

From the s to her death, her work was exhibited widely in Britain and Germany. She was an associate of Colin Murray from the s, and a very supportive member of his Celtic-based Golden Section Order until very late in her life, being most active in the s. Another draft letter among the painter’s papers, shows that it was very soon sent to New York with an exhibition of Surrealist paintings organised by the painter Gordon Onslow-Ford. In pursuing her Celtic interests Ithell took initiations with, and studied with, a number of organizations.

A piece titled the Thirteen Streams of Magnificent Oil relates to the theosophical notion of various openings in the body into which divine energy can flow, and in this case, the work is centered around a woman, as Colquhoun argued that women have one more opening than men, who have twelve.

This animism is revealed also in the sketches and vignettes that illustrate the volume. Colquhoun and Cornwall During the s she spent increasing periods of time Cornwall, initially purchasing a very primitive building in the Lamorna Valley.

It is evident that a number of individual artists had occult, mystical and mythological themes in their works.

These may have a reference to the myth of the fallen and resurrected god made so popular by the work of the religious kthell Sir James Frazer, but it was most likely not an overall comment on her view of men; it may represent studies of an archetype. Scylla was first published as an illustration for ‘The Volcano’, 19 a dreamlike narrative which evokes deliberately Freudian references for an island volcano and lighthouse.


When these occur, if you are expecting a rational and coherent narrative, you may struggle to keep up: This story is given in James George Fraser’s The Golden Bough2 under the sub-heading ‘Idea of the external soul’, and it is likely that the painter was aware of it, as a copy of the book remains amongst her collection of esoteric literature.

Colquhoun’s image of a boat approaching inward-leaning rocks painted in sandy ochres colquhlun pinks evokes this narrow passage. For instance, she interpreted the four major automatic processes as corresponding to the four elements: Although Surrealism tends to be associated most frequently with the visual arts, particularly those of a type which are highly representa- tional and fantastic, it is important to stress that Surrealism was initially a movement expressed through writing.

Surrealism helped her make connections between all these aspects and to question conventional cultural and biological relationships between male and female.

The cover was designed and the body was set by Sam Webster. In the s, Colquhoun’s works were experiments to explore consciousness and the subconscious. Castration and male impotence was also an early theme in a number of important works, such as Gouffres Amers, Cucumber and The Pine Family She was also a key member of a Golden Dawn-type organiza- tion, The Order of the Pyramid and Sphinx, founded by Tamara Bourk- colquhoin in the s with a heavy emphasis on Enochian magic.

In later life, her work lost some of her initial intensity and took on a more poetic, mystical view of life and our place in nature. Tate Gallery Archives, The disturbing Gouffres AmersHunterian Art Gallery, Glasgow shows a male reclining nude, decaying but still alive.

Ithell refused to sever her occult ties and relinquish her interests, and as a result she publicly separated from British Surrealism. She frequently applied grids to her figure drawings, starting from the base using Kabbalistic attributions and correspondences for the body and times of day working up through the figure.

An AutobiographyLondonp. It is also obvious that some of the visual experiments which remain in her archives were actually much larger projects, sometimes to be coupled with text.

Ithell Colquhoun

Visual metaphors of sexuality inundate her work, and even the simplest sketch of a cake or a spoon in colqihoun glass can easily take on a very explicit character. She moved into a permanent studio in Paul in Ithell Colquhoun T Scylla She had used Tarot images previously as stand-alone works, but this was her own set of divinatory materials. Colour was a very important aspect of her work. To this well known source may be added the ithfll of Scylla the daughter of King Nisus of Megara, who, for the love of the invading King Minos, pulled the hair from her father’s head colquhuon protected his life.


One sketch, Grand Union Canal, simply depicts what appears to be kundalini energy rising in the body of the woman during intercourse, but all Colquhoun represented was the energy itself without the supporting bodies.

Ithell Colquhoun Richard Shillitoe – Goose of Hermogenes

Ithell Colquhoun died in Cornwall in After the s, she was regarded as a ‘ fantamagiste ‘, an unorthodox surrealist who focused on the occult. For much of her adult life she lived and worked in Itheol, drawn by a sense of connectedness with the landscape and with the local itjell and traditions. Although Colquhoun explored issues of sex and gender throughout her life, her more challenging and celebrated visual works on this theme came from the earliest stages of her career.

It runs, for example through her novel Goose of Hermogenes and in one of her collections of poetry, Grimoire of the Entangled Thicket.

From the s to her death, her work was exhibited widely in Britain and Germany. There are some very highly polished pieces using sacred geometry which were clearly to be used within a Golden Dawn temple as they reflect aspects of the grade curricula, but in her archives there are also notes and cuttings where she would take these same geometric forms, crosses, pyramids and swastikas, build them up into a three-dimensional figure, and then reduce them once again to a two-dimensional space.

The Surrealism of Conroy Maddox. She took part in the exhibition Living Art in England on an independent basis, but that same year she met Breton in Paris and joined the English surrealist group. These young scholarly fields intersect in real lives today and need a forum in which to mature.