December 16 will see the launch party for the publication of the Fulgur Esoterica edition of Ithell Colquhoun’s long out of print The Decad of Intelligence at the Slade Research Centre, Top Floor Studios, 16 Woburn Square in London. The event’s site says:
“Colquhoun’s corpus of work, now housed at the Tate and the National Archives, reveals a prolific and talented artist, a critical thinker, and a feminist much before her time. Trained at the Slade in 1927-1931 and a member of the British Surrealist movement from 1937-1940, she worked with such major figures as Man Ray and Roland Penrose. She was repeatedly rejected from many different art scenes and esoteric Orders throughout her life, seemingly because she was willing to question authority. When she eventually left the Surrealist group in England it was with much acrimony, provoking a group of Surrealists to disrupt a performance of hers, hosted with her then husband, Toni del Renzio.
“As well as an artist, Colquhoun was a dedicated esotericist, and she saw her art as an expression of her esoteric practice. Decad of Intelligence depicts the ten Sephiroth, which are the Kabbalistic building blocks of the Tree of Life. The Sephiroth are painted in enamels, and all are shown in an oval-like formation. ‘Ithell’s work is highly sexual, and she was obviously not afraid of her sexuality. I think these depictions of the Sephiroth are consciously vulva-like,’ says Amy Hale, scholar and writer of the introduction to the book. ‘Although they appear abstract, she saw these paintings as representational, and as a way of understanding and internalising the Tree of Life.’”
The book will be accompanied by a set of cards reproducing a set of enamels Colquhoun created:
Meanwhile, Caroline Wise posted this note, originally published in the Fellowship of Isis Newsletter, by Olivia Robertson:
‘The words “The Golden Dawn” have an extraordinary fascination for hundreds, even thousands of people who know little of occultism and less of the Celtic Revival of the turn of the century. Anyone claiming even the slightest contact with the Order may assume an oracular mantle for the romantically minded: Possibly it is because there is a sense of starvation of beauty and glamour in a world dominated by computer mentality. Ithell Colquhoun, is one who brings with her an authentic personal knowledge of leaders in the Order and has given her own profound studies in the field in her writings. “Sword of Wisdom” gives an account of her experiences of the Inner Chiefs themselves, understood through her own psychic ability. She has also used her intellectual faculties in her researchers into the teachings given to the Order.
Ithell has particular admiration for MacGregor Mathers and his artist wife Moina. In this connection, it is pleasant to quote her comments on The Fellowship of Isis: … “I feel it is to be a continuation of the Isis Cult of MacGregor Mathers and Moina. I am sure they would have been delighted, particularly with the Celtic connection.”
The visual arts play a prominent part in the work of Ithell Colquhoun. She has shown her paintings, constructions and ‘collages’ in various one-man shows in England and on the Continent. Ithell has written books on Celtic art. Her knowledge and feeling for occultism therefore has not only the tradition of the Qabalah: it has its roots in the ancient wisdom of Britain and Ireland.’ Olivia Robertson.