Japanese Anemone 2011

“No-one ever steps in the same river twice,
for it’s not the same river
and he’s not the same man.”

About a month ago, my computer crashed. I was about to buy a new one, but …

and I hadn’t been backing-up for some time.

Chaos, until the new one arrived. It wouldn’t be too bad. I had at least the work I’d stored on the external hard drive. I then found that my external hard drive didn’t work. I’d lost just about everything since the start of the millenium. But … I had a second external hard drive. I have been able to rescue much of what I’ve lost. And I will be opening up my comatose computer shortly, to see if I can discover its sickness and heal it. From now on, I will be working in the cloud.

An artist friend whose entire work was ruined a few years back in a natural catastrophe, took each damaged work and even fragment of work and turned it into a new work. To me, the rescues were more beautiful for the history of damage embedded and visible in the new piece.

And so I thought I’d like to revisit some images rescued from my own disaster. And Heraclitus was right – one can never step into the same river twice. For that particular present is no more and only accessible as memory, an encystment of memory, for each visit adds a layer to the previous. And at the time I took the photo above, I’d not heard of eco printing. That adventure was yet to come.

The photo above is of a Japanese Anemone that came with my previous garden. I inherited Japanese Anemones again in my current garden. Below are images of some eco prints I’ve made from the last of the flowers and some seedheads. They’re all either on silk or silk satin. Few flowers give up their colours, but may print well as resists. In the prints below the pink petals have printed grey. The gorgeous gold of the circles of stamina have however transferred beautifully.

The anemone is also known as windflower. This is because it is the wind that opens up the blossom, and gets rid of its dead petals. The metaphorical implications are enticing. Red and pink anemone flowers symbolise death or forsaken love. In George Ferguson’s Signs & Symbols in Christian Art, he relates how anemones are often depicted in images of the Crucifixion or alongside the Virgin Mary as she mourns the death of Christ, the red anemones included in these paintings symbolising the blood that Christ shed.The Rev Hilderic Friend in his Flowers and Flower Lore, writes in the chapter The Language of Flowers: “The frailty of the Anemone has led to its being taken as the emblem of Sickness. Pliny tells us that the magicians and wise ones in olden times attributed wonderful powers to this plant, and ordered that every person should gather the first Anemone he saw in the year, repeating at the same time this sentence: “I gather thee for a remedy against disease.” It was then placed in a scarlet cloth and kept undisturbed unless the gatherer became indisposed, when it was tied either round the neck or under the arm of the sufferer.”*

“Youth, like a thin Anemone, displays
His silken leaf, and in a morn decays.”

When gathered in the woods, they fade and droop almost immediately. Some have thought that their name was given them because they could not endure the wind. but Pliny tells us the reverse – viz, that they never open but when the wind is blowing. An English poet has alluded to this in the lines which follow:-

“And when I gather’d rushes, and began
To weave a garland for you, intertwined
With violets, Hepaticas, Primroses,
And coy Anemone, that ne’er uncloses
Her lips until they’re blown on by the wind.””

In his chapter The Fairy Garland he writes: “Although the Anemone is generally associated traditionally with Venus, it has also by some been made a Fairy plant, the elves having been credited with the work of painting the crimson veins in its petals. The flower is a natural barometer, and indicates the approach of the night season or of a   shower, by curling over its petals in a tent-like fashion. This was supposed also to be done by the fairies, who nestled inside the tent of their leaves, and pulled the curtains round them.

The Japanese Anemone originated in China. The kind in my garden is Anemone tomentosa and they develop large, pale pink flowers on tall branching stems. After flowering, they become fluffy seed heads.

*Be well warned, however: all anemones are toxic if eaten: to dogs, animals, and humans, because of a substance they contain (all members of the buttercup family (Ranunculaceae)) called anemonin. Their toxicity for humans is minor and eating them may cause minor illnesses such as vomiting and diarrhea. The juice, sap or hairs of the plants can also cause dermatitis, or skin irritation. In respect of animals, eating anemones can be irritating to mucous membranes, cause blisters, hemorrhagic gastritis, shock, convulsions and even death.

And on that cheerful note, I will close.

About AnnIsikArts

This entry was posted in Art, Eco/Natural Dyeing and Printing, Monoprinting, Photography, Printmaking and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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