Handmade herbarium artwork from Rhodes island with real local pressed plants collected from Winter Solstice to Summer Solstice:
This botanical artwork summons the old romantic times when our mothers, grandmothers foraged and pressed flowers, kept them in books, and were more connected to the symbolism of flowers, its poetry and to nature in general. It evokes a time and space when and where we can see plants as poems of the cosmos. When botanism is inspiration and plants serve as Muses to express human emotions and experiences.
This artwork was inspired by the poetess Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) who, as a teenager created her own herbarium by gathering and pressing more than 400 species of wildflowers, and by creating beautiful poetic compositions of them so they looked like actual paintings. Her herbarium from the 19th century survived up until today and unfortunately we can find flowers in her herbarium that today are endangered or extinct (within ~150 years time!) at the same location.
“I am going to send you a little geranium leaf in this letter, which you must press for me. Have you made you an herbarium yet? I hope you will if you have not, it would be such a treasure to you; ‘most all the girls are making one. If you do, perhaps I can make some additions to it from flowers growing around here.“Emily Dickinson to her friend Abiah Root (source)
Dickinson’s herbarium was digitalized and is available at the Harvard Library’s digital collections:
Many of her poems were rooted in her special connection to plants and flowers, her metaphores were shaped by her deep dive into foraging, identifying plants and gardening. (As Judith Farr sums up) one-third of Dickinson’s poems and half of her letters mention flowers. She refers to plants almost 600 times.
This piece of artwork of mine is preserving some of the most identical plants of Rhodes island from winter to summer solstice between 21st December 2021 and 21st June 2022. I hope it helps to recognize, to adore and to protect these plants (and not only them), so they will not be endangered or go extinct due to human irresponsibility.
I recommend this artwork especially for young children, or anyone who is willing to preserve and strengthen his/her loving bond with nature.
And finally here stands a poem by Emily Dickinson:
Nature the gentlest mother is,
Impatient of no child,
The feeblest of the waywardest.
Her admonition mild
In forest and the hill
By traveller be heard,
Restraining rampant squirrel
Or too impetuous bird.
How fair her conversation
A summer afternoon,
Her household her assembly;
And when the sun go down,
Her voice among the aisles
Incite the timid prayer
Of the minutest cricket,
The most unworthy flower.
When all the children sleep,
She turns as long away
As will suffice tolight her lamps,
Then bending from the sky
With infinite affection
An infiniter care,
Her golden finger on her lip,
Wills silence everywhere.
– by Emily Dickinson: Nature, the Gentlest Mother (1849)