Her name has largely slipped through the gaps of art history, and those who do know her work may associate her primarily with magic and the occult — but, with the acquisition of a huge archive, Tate is hoping that the artist Ithell Colquhoun will finally get the credit and recognition she deserves as a major figure in British surrealism. Tate has announced that more than 5, sketches, drawings, and commercial artworks by Colquhoun have been transferred to it by the National Trust. Her name and reputation is little known but it deserves to be, said Tate archivist Adrian Glew. Colquhoun was born in and, as sketchbooks in the archive show, was a talented artist from a young age.
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To bring her surrealist works to life, British artist Ithell Colquhoun employed techniques ranging from fumage to decalcomania , entopic graphomania and parsemage. The first uses smoke from a lighted candle to create impressions on paint, while the last finds charcoal or chalk dust scattered across a watery surface and skimmed off with a stiff piece of paper.
As the cultural institution announced this week, the U. She returned to England as a child and studied at the Slade School of Art, producing figurative paintings inspired by classical mythology and the Bible. Colquhoun soon became a prolific author, publishing articles, poems, travelogues and novels. She continued to paint in the surrealist style of automatism and further pursued her passion for the occult, eventually becoming a priestess of Isis, a master mason and a deaconess of the ancient Celtic Church.
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Tate acquires vast archive of British surrealist Ithell Colquhoun
Ithell Colquhoun 9 October — 11 April was a British painter, occultist , poet and author. Stylistically her artwork was affiliated with surrealism. In the late s, Colquhoun was part of the British Surrealist Group before being expelled because she refused to renounce her association with occult groups. She spent the latter part of her life in Cornwall, where she died in While at the Slade, she joined G.
Large scale classical or biblical figure compositions prevailed in her work and she remained a member of the Society of Mural Painters into the s. While still at the Slade she began to be interested in esoteric literature and occult sects. She travelled to Greece , Tenerife and Corsica , and held two solo exhibitions in Cheltenham Art Gallery and Fine Art Society, London , which included botanical watercolours on silk. Abbreviating this term to 'psychomorphologies', Colquhoun made her own contribution to the capturing of psychic space in painting. This automatism characterised her work for twenty-five years, and resulted in two theoretical texts, 'The Mantic Stain' Enquiry , Oct. Despite these parallels, Colquhoun broke with Surrealism in rather than sacrifice her interest in the occult.