ithell colquhoun magician born of nature
All texts copyright Richard Shillitoe

bird of passage


Collage. 8¾ x 5½in. (22.5 x 14cm.) Provenance Private collection. Exhibited Penzance, Newlyn Gallery, 1967, no. 30. Hamburg, Gallerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst, 1969, no. 27. Bristol, The Arts Centre, 1970, no. 47. Exeter, City Art Gallery, 1972, no. 41. Penzance, Newlyn Gallery, 1976, no. 75. A young woman models a winter coat, lined with wool. She emerges from an open suitcase into an environment dominated by the columns of a classical Greek or Roman building. A large bird emerges from the front of the woman’s coat. The pun on ‘bird’ in the title, as both a feathered creature and as a woman is the starting point for any analysis. The collage then associates the idea of human travel with the migration of birds. For birds the imperative is biological, for humans it is cultural. Similarly, the woman’s stylish coat, which equates to the bird’s plumage, is also a cultural artefact.