Like the other eco prints on watercolour paper in the batch made the other week, this is a pair of mirror image prints.
Quite by chance (if you believe in coincidence – I don’t) there’s an inner circle of imprints where the two sheets meet. The imprints are from willow catkins, harvested over a year ago and preserved between sheets of paper. I’ve arranged three of the willow pussies and above these, a eucalyptus leaf serendipitously pretends to be a fourth. The mirroring of these imprints makes a full circle at the heart of the pair.
A circle of eight.
The negative space at the middle of the circle is nebulous. How deep is this space? What forms might exist there?
The phrase space of possibility came to mind – another definition to add to my list, for negative space.
Circle dance also came to mind. I read that the circle dance is likely the most ancient of all dance traditions and that there are versions of the circle dance performed the world over, to mark occasions, as ritual and to encourage community.
Came to mind in particular was the An-Dro (The Turn) – a Breton circle dance which I’ve seen performed (and had a go at) a good number of times, at the annual Festival Interceltique de Lorient (Brittany) and during the festival’s tours to Paris.
As circle of eight, it came to me that the figure 8 consists of two circles, one balanced on top of the other. Unsurprisingly, in Pythagorean Numerology, I read that one of the attributes of 8, is balance. I read also that in the Bible, 8 represents a new beginning. The Celtic year is divided into eight festivals. As is the Christian. It seems to me that 8 must represent eternity, since it is a closed form; thus, never-ending.
And I have made the figure of eight many many times, over and over – on ice (on ice skates) making 8 on both the inner and the outer blades.
As a nautical knot, the figure of eight prevents a knot from unreeving.
Metaphysically, might a figure of eight be a concept held, so that an idea can move forward in a particular direction?
The metaphysics of figure of eight is worthy of exploration.
The poor willow, it has such a negative reputation. Rev Hilderic Friend in his fascinating book Flowers and Flower Lore writes that “… in Bohemia, the Willow is said to be the tree on which Judas hanged himself, whence the vulgar supposition that the devil has given it a peculiar attraction for suicides.”
In his chapter Bridal Wreaths and Bouquets: The Willow Garland, he writes: “It was once customary for slighted lovers to wear a Willow Garland as a symbol of their grief; …”
“In love the sad forsaken wight
The Willow garland weareth;”
… also …
“But since my sister he hath made his choise,
This wreath of Willow, that begirts my browes,
Shall never leave to be my ornament,
Till he be dead, or I be married to him.”
(A Woman is a Weather-Cocke: Nathan Field)
In Aubrey‘s “Remaines of Gentilisme and Judaisme,” we read that “The young man whose late sweetheart is married to some other person does often in frolique literally wear a Willow Garland, as I have seen in some parts of Oxfordshire.”
Willow is also identified in the Rev Friend’s book as, “… the scourge with which the Saviour was beaten. The Willow is … by some believed to have been employed for this purpose, in consequence of which it has ever since drooped its boughs and wept.”
He also writes, in the chapter Flowers and the Seasons, that, “Palm Sunday has long been celebrated in England, … with processions and decorations, and since neither Palm nor Olive grow amongst us naturally, Willow and Yew have been employed in their place.”
“In Rome upon Palm Sunday they bear true Palms,
The Cardinals bow reverently and sing old Psalms :
Elsewhere those Psalms are sung ‘mid Olive branches,
The Holly-branch supplies the place among the avalanches ;
More northern climes must be content with the sad Willow.”
and also, “… Feast of Tabernacles (Lev. xxIII.40) may have had something to do with the introduction of the Willow here : “And ye shall take you on the first day the boughs (margin fruit) of goodly trees, branches of Palm trees, and boughs of thick trees, and Willows of the brook ; and ye shall rejoice before the Lord your God seven days.”
And further, “Mr Henderson tells us that in his boyhood they used to go and gather Willow and make it into crosses for Palm Sunday. They formed them like a St. Andrew’s Cross, with a tuft of Catkins or blossoms at each point, binding them with knots and bows of ribbon. There is a proverb still current in the north of England, to the effect that “He that hath not a Palm in his hand on Palm Sunday must have his hand cut off.” and the crosses used on these days may still be seen in some out-of-the-way places, suspended on the cottage walls during the rest of the year.”
And in the chapter, The Weeping Willow: “Let us now look for a moment at the language which the trees with their buds, leaves, branches, and flowers speak to us. … The Weeping Willow has long been expressive of Mourning, and all will recall the beautiful Psalm in which the Jews are represented as hanging their harps on the Willow. This has passed into a proverb, and we now often hear it remarked of a person who is sad and mournful, “He has hung his harp on the Willow.” “
And not to forget the “… pretty Chinese story connected with the “Willow Pattern, …”.
I don’t think the willow weeps; I think it is in perpetual reverie – that most positive of spaces.