Poppies are associated with dream states, sleep, passion, death and remembrance. They grow quickly over tilled fields in the spring, hence their association with Demeter, the Greek goddess of fertility but also, with war. Red poppies are worn to honor veterans in the UK, Australia, the USA and Canada, recalling the crimson carpets of killing fields. In France the blue cornflower serves this purpose. The narcotic properties of poppies have been known since ancient times. In China poppies evoke colonialism and the Opium wars. In Persian poetry their red petals symbolize passion and love.  In California, poppies are golden.


I draw on these references to explore poppies as dream-flowers, memory petals, talismans of war and bouquets of quick-fading passion.  From the golden poppy fields of California  to the crimson meadows  of  Europe and North Africa, the flower has been significant for me. I draw on these personal memories,   the history of the opium trade  and studies of the effects of opiates on the mind and body to develop .work with paint, photography, cloth, seeds, petals, texts, and video.  I focus on poppies to develop work across media and in a variety of styles to explore the persistence of artistic signature across media and style and the self across different spaces and psychic states. 

 

As I work on this project, I sometimes recall the sensation of joyfully walking across spring poppy fields. At others, I contemplate the history of dreams and destruction sown by this evanescent bloom and the many dream-worlds it produces in its different forms.

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