Edith Rimmington (1902 - 1986):
Life and Death Traps II, c. 1955
Unmounted (ref: 10587)
Watercolour, gouache, pen and ink on paper
15 x 22 in. (38.2 x 55.8 cm)
Provenance: Gifted by the artist to present owner
In this composition, various elements revolve in a perfect circle around a dark, mauve pansy. These include a huge crab fighting with a smaller crustacean, a skull, a hermit-crab and a Conquistador helmet with lush plumes, standing out on a background of foliage, leaves and flowers.
The key to the image lies in the mask visor of the helmet and the hermit crab – also referred to as the soldier crab - apparently engaged in some fight. This seems to have triggered off in Rimmington’s imagination (in a more or less automatic way) the concatenation of animal and human references, dovetailing them into a vision of a wheel of life based on warring relationships – a vision of predators, aggression, violence and death. A sense of destruction and the struggle for life lurks behind every detail, as in many of her paintings of that period, and traps us into an insoluble confrontation of life and death. Rimmington produced a similar collage-like composition in 1952, which bears the same title.
Commentary provided by Michel Remy, the leading authority on British Surrealism.