ithell colquhoun magician born of nature
All texts copyright Richard Shillitoe



Carved chalk with tempera. Dimensions unknown. Provenance Untraced. Exhibited London, Mayor Gallery, 1939, no. 16. Literature The London Bulletin, no. 8-9, 1939, ill. b/w p. 10. At a time when other surrealists, such as Yves Tanguy (From the Other Side of the Bridge, 1936) and Meret Oppenheim (Fur Tea Cup, 1938) were producing soft sculptures with highly tactile qualities, Colquhoun here transforms the soft, tactile and sensitive into the hard and unresponsive. A heart that is still, lips that are unyielding and tear drops that are solid, are objects that exist in ways that are contrary to their nature. Heart is carved from chalk, a sedimentary rock formed from the shells of ancient marine organisms. Poetically, the material unites the hardness of stone with the softness of water, the element in which it was formed. Now inanimate, but comp-osed of once-living creatures, it bears witness to an alchemical transform- ation that demonstrates the animistic belief that the spirit of life exists in all matter. This is one of only two carvings by Colquhoun. The other is Death’s Head and Foot, also carved in 1938.