ithell colquhoun magician born of nature
© All texts copyright Richard Shillitoe 2015-17  All artworks copyright the estate of the artist.


April 2017 Irish Museum of Modern Art Dublin The current exhibition, As Above, So Below: portals, visions, spirits and mystics, includes six rarely seen oil paintings by Colquhoun.  There are five decalcomanias and Sunset Birth (mislabelled as Silent Birth), which gives the Men-an-Tol monument in Cornwall a theosophical twist. Four further works by Colquhoun are listed in the catalogue, but are not on show. The exhibition is on until 27 August 2017. October 2016 Peter Owen Ltd reissues two books The republication of Colquhoun’s two travel books, The Crying of the Wind, Ireland and The Living Stones, Cornwall by Peter Owen Ltd was celebrated at the Village Hall, Lamorna, by an exhibition, readings and presentations, organised by the Ancient Scent group of artists and writers. Photographs taken at the event can be found here    Scroll down the page for links to videos of some of the activities. The Peter Owen website is here. March 2016 Tate etc. The latest (No.36; Spring 2016) issue of Tate etc. magazine contains a short article on Colquhoun’s sketchbooks in Tate’s archives. The author suggests a “blocky bronze head” that she illustrates may be related to Colquhoun’s researches into magical texts. She specifically mentions The Grimoire of the Brazen Angel, published in 1974. In fact, Colquhoun’s image dates from 1927 and is unrelated to her magical studies. It is a student piece: part of a design for a book jacket, or advertising poster, for William Barnes’ The Call of the World, published that year by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospels in Foreign Parts. The bronze head is the head of a black slave. The National Trust also possesses a number of sketchbooks. They have never been examined in any detail. They appear to be early, from the 1930s, but who knows what they may contain? January 2016 Penlee House Museum and Gallery, Penzance A small exhibition of Colquhoun’s work opens on Monday 16 January 2016 at Penlee House Museum and Gallery in Penzance, Cornwall, running until 19 March.  This, the first exhibition in a public gallery since her death, shows a selection of pictures spanning her six decade artistic career, with particular emphasis on her work on the human in nature. There are approximately thirty works borrowed from The National Trust, as well as from public and private collections. More infromation at the Gallery’s website here. December 2015 Lawrences of Crewkerne, 22 Jan 2016, lot 1644 A painting by Colquhoun is to be sold in the new year. According to the auctioneer the painting is untitled, but according to a previous owner it is “The Arrow and the Serpent” of 1944. Further details of the painting can be found here. The work is described as untitled and unframed by the auctioneer. It was Colquhoun’s frequent practice at this period to sign and identify the work on the frame, so perhaps the title disappeared along with the frame. British Art Show 8 The artist Linder – Linder Sterling – has recently completed a residency at Tate St Ives. Whilst in Cornwall she spent time researching Colquhoun. Linder has recently completed two related works that visually and conceptually reveal Colquhoun’s influence. The first is a rug, titled “Diagrams of Love: Marriage of Eyes”, that has been handmade at Edinburgh's Dovecot Studios. The rug also plays a part in the second piece, “Children of the Mantic Stain”, a new ballet that takes its title from Colquhoun’s essay, and performed by dancers from Northern Ballet. The rug had to be capable of being viewed as a static display within a gallery and also as a choreographed element within the Children of the Mantic Stain ballet. According to Linder “I had various ideas for the design of the rug but it was more the mood of the object that was of utmost importance… and I wanted the rug to have an hallucinogenic – mantic – quality to it, so that it could shapeshift wherever it travelled to. A magic carpet by any other name.” (1) The result is a rug that is a spiral, that can both lie flat and also be draped and reconfigured any which way around a ballet dancer or suspended within a gallery space. “Diagrams of Love: Marriage of Eyes”, can currently be seen at Leeds Art Gallery as part of the eighth edition of the British Art Show. The exhibition catalogue contains an essay “Daughter of the Mantic Stain” by Linder in which she describes  her responses to Colquhoun and her own ideas for taking automatism forward. The exhibition closes at Leeds on January 10 2016 and then moves to venues in Edinburgh, Norwich and Southampton. The ballet was premiered at Leeds and will also be performed again during the tour, at dates to be announced. Colquhoun’s “Diagrams of Love: Marriage of Eyes” drawings are described here, and her essay “Children of the Mantic Stain”, which describes her use of automatic techniques, is referred to here. Note 1. Quoted at August 2015 Auction: David Lay, Penzance, 25 August 2015 The most interesting item in this auction was lot 1230 which included  a greetings card inscribed "solstice greetings Winter 1975" and signed "Ithell". The design on the front cover shows a star and the phases of the moon and is printed on bi-coloured paper (pink and blue, for her usual hermetic reason). The card was almost certainly designed by Colquhoun as the printer's block was in her studio at her death. It is one of only two examples currently known. Others must surely survive, but how many  were simply thrown away by their recipients? November 2014 Ithell Colquhoun’s occult novel I Saw Water has just been published for the first time.  The book also includes a number of essays, poems and illustrations of artworks, many previously unpublished, that help place the novel in the broader context of Colquhoun’s work. An introduction, bibliography of Colquhoun’s publications and extensive footnotes complete the volume.   The publisher’s page is here and here is this website’s page for I Saw Water. September 2014       For an important and scholarly illustrated paper on Colquhoun, read:       Morrisson, M.S. Ithell Colquhoun and Occult Surrealism in Mid-Twentieth-Century        Britain and Ireland.        MODERNISM/modernity, vol 21(3), 587-616, 2014