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

the major themes

introduction With a mystical belief in the wholeness of creation, Colquhoun sought to transcend all divisions. For her, surrealism and the occult provided two closely related paths to enlightenment. Her quest was carried out, in part, through an exploration of the nature and origin of gender differences. She scrutinised social and sexual roles in the human world, sexual dimorphism in the natural world and gender differences amongst the gods. She championed the female principle in all its aspects and was frequently scornful of male qualities. Someone who knew her well in the 1950s commented that the majority of her works ‘incorporated some form of phallic symbol’. Whilst this is an oversimplification, phallic, and vulval, references are undoubtedly present in many of her art works and figure prominently in her poetry and prose. It is, however, never erotic. Her purpose was to explore and to reconcile, not to arouse. This section examines such recurring themes as these in more detail.