ithell colquhoun magician born of nature
All texts copyright Richard Shillitoe

embryo fetish


Merz collage, including egg boxes. 18⅛ x 14in. (46 x 36cm.) Provenance Bonhams, 20 Sept. 1995, lot 565, ill. b/w. Exhibited Penzance, Newlyn Gallery, 1967, no. 6, as Embryo. Hamburg, Gallerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst, 1969, no. 15. Bristol, The Arts Centre, 1970, no. 24. Penzance, Newlyn Gallery, 1976, no. 55. This is one of the works in which packaging – an ephemeral item which surrounds an object - is transformed into the object itself, which is then enclosed within a frame: the container becomes the contained. An egg contains within its protective shell the origins of life. An egg box is an inanimate object which protects the eggs it contains. Freud’s notion of the uncanny focuses upon confusion between the animate and the inanimate. Here, Colquhoun introduces a third element: a conflation of the animate, the inanimate and the robotic. In the title Colquhoun makes a punning reference to the nature and function of the original containers: giving free-range to her fantasy, the egg-boxes themselves have hatched into their own progeny. A closely related work is known from a photograph.