Edith Rimmington (1902 - 1986)

Life and Death Traps II, c. 1955

SKU: 10587

Watercolour, gouache, pen and ink on paper


15 x 22 in. (38.2 x 55.8 cm)

Height – 38.2cm
Width – 55.8cm


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 ‚Äì 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 ‚Äì 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.

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Edith Rimmington
1902 - 1986

Edith Rimmington attended the Brighton School of Art (1919′
22) where she met fellow artist Leslie Robert Baxter (1893’1986)
whom she married in 1926. She joined the British Surrealist
Group on relocating to London from Manchester in 1937, and
despite being one of its only female members, became a key
figure in the movement ‘ showing works at the Surrealist Objects
exhibition at the London Gallery (1937) and the International
Surrealist Exhibition
at the Galerie Maeght in Paris (1947). 

Much of her work from this time is recognisable for its focus
on strange figures and dreams, such as The Oneiroscopist (1947). 

When the British Surrealist Group disbanded in 1947,
Rimmington moved increasingly away from painting to explore
Surrealist ideas through automatic poetry and experimental


Edith Rimmington (1902 - 1986)
Prize Fight, circa 1960