Rhythm & Colour
Hélène Vanel, Loïs Hutton & Margaret Morris
Richard Emerson

Published by Golden Hare, Edinburgh, 2018

Designed by James Brook

ISBN 978 1 5272 2170 3

Hardback with dust jacket | 245 x 178mm | 624 pages | Printed by Allander, Edinburgh on Olin Regular Cream with cover of Keaycolor Sombre Grey

Hélène Vanel (1898-1989), Loïs Hutton (1893-1972), and Margaret Morris (1891-1980) were dancers of the avant-garde who performed in their own theatres, in costumes they designed, against backcloths they painted themselves. Without money, precedent or male support, these three women achieved fame and notoriety at the centre of the great artistic movements of the 20th century. Their history has been largely forgotten, but in this book Richard Emerson uncovers this extraordinary story, which sees the three women moving from London and Wales to Paris and the French Riviera. 

Through newly discovered letters, photographs, journals, memoirs, and contemporary criticism, the book considers the place of dance in post-WWI Modernism from Morris’ involvement with Futurism and Vorticism to Vanel’s dances at the opening of the 1938 International Surrealist Exhibition in Paris which are now heralded as the beginning of Performance Art. 

Rhythm & Colour charts the dancers’ uncompromising commitment to their art and their vibrant love affairs, both with the places they lived and with each other, notably Hutton’s affair with American poet Edna St Vincent Millay, Morris’ relationship with J.D. Fergusson, and the pursuit of Vanel by Scottish Colourist painter, Leslie Hunter. Their theatres in Chelsea, Paris and the French Riviera attracted, among many others Scott Fitzgerald, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Ernest Hemingway, Pablo Picasso and James Joyce (whose daughter Lucia was among their pupils). The dancers worked with Jean Renoir, Marcel Duchamp and Salvador Dalí.

The book’s author, Richard Emerson is an Art Historian. Formerly the Deputy Conway Librarian at The Courtauld Institute of Art in London, and Chief Inspector of Historic Buildings at Historic Scotland.


Sir Mark Jones, Publisher, Golden Hare: A gifted designer with an intuitive feeling for the individual character of each project and a strong practical approach to getting the right result at the right price – working with James Brook is a real pleasure. 

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