On Growth and Form
In 1917 Sir D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson, a Scottish biologist, authored an enormous and erudite book, “On Growth and Form.” This formal analysis of patterns and shapes in nature was described by a colleague, Sir Peter Medawar, as “the finest work of literature in all the annals of science that have been recorded in the English tongue.”
In these paintings I am exploring the shapes and textures of plants that have been held sacred by different cultures across time; plants mentioned in the Bible and the Quran, flowers that held a deep spiritual significance for the ancients and were used for healing and psychological care, and plants used in Native American ceremonies.
Also called "Juno's Tears," Vervain was one of the Celt's most sacred plants. They used it as a plant of prophecy and believed that when it was rubbed into their skin, they could achieve everything their heart desired. In my work, the plant is distilled to its most simple form and color, concentrating it as the Celt's did, to capture its unusual powers.
The plant, narcissus, has come to be associated with death and according to the ancient Greeks, the power of its scent in an enclosed room could be enough to cause madness. Conversely, as the daffodil is a type of narcissus, it is also heralded as the flower of new beginnings, as it's appearance marks the start of spring. It is this duality that is so fascinating to me.
Rosemary has long been associated with remembrance, faithfulness and friendship. The Virgin Mary is said to have sheltered beneath a rosemary bush on the flight to Egypt, changing its flowers from white to blue as she laid her cloak over it. In this work, I've magnified the tiny leaves, exploring the negative spaces between, and around them.
From the Bible: “I give every green plant for food. And it was so. God saw all that he had made, and it was very good” (Genesis 1:30b-31a, NIV). And from the Quran: ”He positioned the earth for all the creatures: There are fruits of all kinds on it, and date-palms with their clusters sheathed, grain – with husk, and fragrant grasses” (Sura 55:10-12, Ali), which are “favors of your Lord.”