The Dance of Moon and Sun: Ithell Colquhoun, British Women and Surrealism

Various Contributors


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Straddling the worlds of Surrealism, occultism and modernist literature, Ithell Colquhoun (1906–88) was widely respected in her lifetime, but her transgressive, esoteric and poetic paintings and writings were long neglected until Richard Shillitoe’s 2009 book Ithell Colquhoun: Magician Born of Nature initiated her revaluation—followed by Fulgur’s 2016 publication Decad of Intelligence, the Tate’s 2019 acquisition of more than 5,000 Colquhoun works and Amy Hale’s 2020 biography. Colquhoun occupies a unique place within the lineage of occult Surrealist painters such as Leonora Carrington and Remedios Varo, as her presence in the 2022 Venice Biennale exhibition Milk of Dreams demonstrated.

This volume is the first critical examination of her diverse legacy, compiling papers from a 2018 conference on Colquhoun and her contemporaries Leonora Carrington, Leonor Fini and Stella Snead. Contributors explore themes of authorship and agency, Colquhoun’s drawing practice, her Celtic motifs, British Surrealism and alchemy.


23.5cm x 17cm
256 pages
32 colour images | 10 black and white
English text


Edited by Judith Noble, Victoria Ferentinou and Tilly Craig

Foreword – Frances Colquhoun

Introduction: Retracing the Lost Female Surrealists – Judith Noble, Tilly Craig and Victoria Ferentinou
‘A poet in words, collages, paintings and constructions’: Authorship and Agency in Ithell Colquhoun’s Creative Trajectories – Victoria Ferentinou
The Surrealist Phantasmagorias of Ithell Colquhoun– Tifaine Bachet
‘A wordless, thoughtless vacuum’: Ithell Colquhoun’s Drawing Practices – Isabel Seligman
Fashioning the Marvellous: Dressing-Up Practices as Self-Empowerment in the Cases of Leonor Fini and Leonora Carrington – Andrea Kollnitz
Stella Snead: Spectacular Phenomena –Terri Geis
Sun, Stone and Oak: The Celtic World of Ithell Colquhoun – Amy Hale
An Interview with Jo O’Cleirgh – Tilly Craig
The ‘Ancient Scent’ Project: Art, Magic, Ithell Colquhoun and an Alchemical Experiment in a Cornish Valley – Steve Patterson
Ithell Colquhoun’s Bequest to the National Trust – Richard Shillitoe
Seeking the Marvellous: Stone, Water and Moon – Jesse Bransford