Ithell Colquhoun: Decad of Intelligence
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Ithell Colquhoun: Decad of Intelligence

Ithell Colquhoun: Decad of Intelligence

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Slade Research Centre, Top Floor Studios

16 Woburn Square

London

WC1H 0NS

United Kingdom

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After 85 years, the forgotten esoteric feminist artist Ithell Colquhoun returns to the Slade School of Fine Art who are hosting the launch of a long neglected book of her magical work. The Slade Research Centre Studios are the venue for a performance and a reading from Colquhoun's unique interpretation of Kabbalah, 'Decad of Intelligence'.

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 published along with a set of cards printed from the enamels.

The performance will comprise readings from the text by ten individual women, against a projected backdrop of the distinct enamels.

Refreshments will be provided.


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Slade Research Centre, Top Floor Studios

16 Woburn Square

London

WC1H 0NS

United Kingdom

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