Artist(s): Ithell Colquhoun
Author(s): Amy Hale
Year published: 2020
Publisher: Strange Attractor Press
Publisher Location: London
Total Pages: 336
Illustrations: Illustrated in colour throughout
This book offers the first in-depth biographical study of the British surrealist and occultist Ithell Colquhoun, situating her art within the magical contexts that shaped her imaginative life and work. After decades of neglect, Colquhoun’s unique vision and hermetic life have become an object of great renewed interest, both for artists and for historians of magic. Although her paintings are represented in such major collections as Tate Britain and the National Portrait Gallery, Colquhoun’s rejection of both avant-garde and occult orthodoxies resulted in a life of relative obscurity. Her visual and written works have only recently received adequate recognition as a precursor to contemporary experiments in magical autobiography and esoteric feminism. After rejecting the hectic social expectations and magical orthodoxies of London’s art and occult scenes, Colquhoun pursued a life of dedicated spiritual and artistic enquiry embodied in her retreat to Cornwall. Genius of the Fern Loved Gully balances engaging biography with art historical erudition and critical insight into the magical systems that underscored her art and writing.