ithell colquhoun magician born of nature
All texts copyright Richard Shillitoe

topographical writings:

the crying of the wind: Ireland Written and issued in 1955, this was Colquhoun’s first published book. It was commissioned by Peter Owen, with whom she was on friendly terms. As an author able to supply her own cover artwork and illustrations, she would have been an attractive prospect to a small, cost-cutting independent publisher such as Owen. The association between artist and publisher continued until 1961 when he published her novel, Goose of Hermogenes. The structure of The Crying of the Wind: Ireland is simple. Each chapter starts with a description of a place or an excursion. This then becomes the springboard for descriptions of the local folklore, antiquities, flora, fauna and the cultural life of the vicinity. Holy wells, healing wells and ancient chapels jostle with pagan lore, druidic belief and herbal remedies. These vignettes frequently lead to personal memories, literary allusions and other reflections. The writing, however, is straightforward with none of the declamatory or hymn-like passages that would later feature in The Living Stones: Cornwall. The world is one that we have learned to expect from Colquhoun: it is a world of physical and spiritual intimacy with the landscape. This intimacy is experienced through her artistic eye, as when, for example, she describes the appearance of limestone mountains after rain, through physical sensations, as when she describes the feel of rain drops on her naked body and through the spiritual ties she feels with the land: Ireland is at the mercy of the elements as a sensitive human being is at the mercy of elemental waves of feeling – angst alternates with bitterness, an insane gaiety with sorrow and mindless reverie. There are days when one feels completely lost, doomed to be engulfed like Atlantis in mist and spray, or blown away by a gale from the ocean. (p. 108)
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