ithell colquhoun magician born of nature
© All texts copyright Richard Shillitoe 2015-16  All artworks copyright the estate of the artist.

artistic development:

the 1950s For Colquhoun, the 1930s and the 1940s were decades of development and discovery. In contrast, the 1950s was a decade of transition and low production. Between 1950 and 1960 there are years with no recorded paintings at all. It is true that in this time she published two topographical books and also undertook a limited amount of commercial work, designing book jackets for the publisher Peter Owen,  but these were undoubtedly years of significantly reduced artistic activity. During this period her imagery underwent a profound change. Her works began to lose their power to disturb. They became less unsettling, less confrontational, more reflective and more lyrical. If the world into which she now invited the beholder had changed, it is because her own inner world had changed. By the end of the decade the artist was clearly a very different person to the one at the start of it. As judged by her images, she was less tormented, less aggressive and less strident. The sexuality, although still present, was less frenzied. It is not clear what caused this increasing gentleness. She may have felt more settled in her personal life, spending increasing lengths of time in Cornwall, moving into a permanent studio in Paul, near Penzance, in 1959. She may have felt more comfortable spiritually, having finally found an occult society that would have her as a member. A period of Jungian psychotherapy may also have helped. Whatever the reasons, she also began to develop interests in fresh media such as collage, found objects and the use of enamel paint. During this decade she held only one one-person show in London. This was in 1957, at the Gallery 1. It featured twenty-two works in watercolour or ink, the majority employing automatic techniques. In the event, this turned out to be her last show of new work to be held in London.
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