The Oceanographic Expeditions of Eileen Agar’s Marine Collage

30 September 2021

Christina Heflin, Royal Holloway, University of London

Eileen Agar’s Marine Collage (1939) is exactly what it suggests: a collage of marine images. However, beneath the surface, there is an entire story of pioneering undersea exploration. The piece is a quadriptych, and the strata of collaged layers for each quadrant have a ground piece beneath a silhouetted image with further elements atop it. The negative space’s contents in the silhouettes features images of creatures from the most profound depths of the sea. The scenes are fascinating to behold, and some of the creatures appear fierce while others are otherworldly. In addition to these aesthetic qualities, the collage source material’s historical context enriches the work, providing an expeditionary tale in each vignette. This essay aims to discuss the underlying aspects of Agar’s collage, which cover topics such as women in science, marine biological research, and taxonomic identification.

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The Evolution of Eileen Agar’s Ceremonial Hat for Eating Bouillabaisse

1 July 2021

Christina Heflin, Royal Holloway, University of London

bouillabaisse, n.

     –– A dish of Provençal origin, composed of fish stewed in water or spiced white wine [1] 

Amongst her paintings, photographs, collages and sculptures, one work that has become iconic within the œuvre of British Surrealist artist Eileen Agar (1899 – 1991) is a fanciful-looking hat that she is often depicted wearing, The Ceremonial Hat for Eating Bouillabaisse. My academic research at the Tate Archives on Eileen Agar’s papers kept bringing me to this hat. Photographs and clippings indicating its different statuses kept me intrigued, and as I was starting to form my own research topic on the artist, I grew more and more aware that there was something magical about it. Symbolic of the light-hearted nature with which she generally approached her work, this object is, however, more than just a silly piece of millinery decorated with bits and bobs. Initially conceived around 1936, it is thanks to the documentation at the Tate, her autobiography A Look at My Life  as well as a few news reels made over the span of her career put side-by-side that there is evidence of the evolutionary nature of the Bouillabaisse hat.

Continue reading “The Evolution of Eileen Agar’s Ceremonial Hat for Eating Bouillabaisse”

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