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

double coconut

                                 1936

Watercolour on silk. 24½ x 17½in. (62.2 x 44.5 cm.) Provenance Untraced. Exhibited London, Fine Art Society, 1936, no. 22. London, London Gallery, 1939, no. 4. Literature Ades, 1980, p. 39. Ratcliffe, 2007, ill. b/w pl. 38. The fruits of the Coco de Mer palm resemble pairs of coconuts joined together. They are the largest fruits of the vegetable kingdom. Male and female flowers grow on separate trees. For several centuries the tree was known only by its fruits as flotsam washed ashore, giving rise to the belief that the parent tree must grow underwater. The sexually suggestive appearance of the nuts, which can be read as both male and female forms, and its mysterious origins, would have made the plant of interest to Colquhoun. The stump of the severed frond in the foreground is an image of emasculation. Stumps are found in other works, including Susanna and the Elders (1930) and The Pine Family (1940).