Here’s a little study of a beautiful wildflower of the Garry Oak Meadows — Erythranthe guttata, Yellow Monkey Flower. Phrymaceae.
The most dramatic part of this flower, (apart from the golden colour) are the deep crimson markings on the lower petals of the blossom, markings that lead an insect visitor to the nectar. Now, bees see things differently from us, so to see how a bee sees those markings would require both a UV filter and bee-vision filters. An interesting aspect to pursue!
One of the cool discoveries I made in observing the blossoms of this plant is that those markings differ from flower to flower. Here’s a small sample of some of the variations. I’ve morphed the colours in order to enhance the visibility of those markings.
I’ve dissected several blossoms, and another very cool aspect of these blossoms are the very hairy bulges on lower petals. Apparently, the hairs collect not only pollen from the flower’s own anthers — ergo, the plant can self-pollinate, but also pollen carried by incoming bees, so there’s cross-pollination too. Double reproductive security for this plant.
More surprises from this beautiful wildflower — the calyx, the little structure that holds the blossom and all its reproductive parts, inflates after the flower has finished its display, enclosing and protecting the seed pod within its papery cover. I’ve made a short animation to explore this wonderous aspect of the flower’s life cycle. It’s entitled Postcript because it’s the last part of the flower’s life cycle.
I haven’t added anything to my site since he exhibition at the High Desert Museum in Bend, Oregon, so I thought I would start with some spring wildflowers from the native Garry Oak Meadows from my neck of the woods.
The first image is a small bouquet of Camassia leichtlinii, (Great Camas), Lomatium utriculatum (Spring Gold), and Plectritis congesta (Sea Blush). These are merely 3 of the many wildflowers to be found in a Garry Oak meadow. Beautiful wildflowers much visited by a diversity of pollinators.
Thought I’d create a repeat wallpaper design from the flowers, and add to them the iconic and rare Garry Oak environment, suggested here by the acorns and leaves.
Not too long ago, I attended a wonderful and informative walk and talk at the UBC Botanical Gardens. The talk was given by the curator of the Westcoast native gardens, Ben Stormes. Ben is creating research Garry Oak Meadow so it is a work in progress, but nontheless, it is beautiful and I learned a great deal about this rare environment, which, like all things in nature, is shrinking because of habitat loss, development, pesticides, etc. A story we know all too well. I’m not going to end on a negative note because there are organizations, like the one on Vancouver Island, the Garry Oak Ecosystem Recovery Teams, which are restoring these beautiful native habitats.
This poor Osmia is absolutely loaded with mites. I wonder if this bee will survive with so many freeloaders?
In my exploration of the life cycle of bees, I became intrigued by the process of metamorphosis that bees go through within their little cells. The period when the larva spins a silk coccoon around itself and undergoes this amazing transformation is wonderous. Here’s a short animation inspired by this magical process. The text in the video are fragments taken from the beautiful poetry of Carol Ann Duffy.
Well, sadly, the library is closed and has been for some weeks now. I understand that the show might go on if the library is permitted to open in June. So, maybe there’s a light at the end of this viral tunnel.
Covid is taking a toll on all of us. I wish for everyone to be safe and healthy despite the restrictions and closures.
Bee well until we get the OK! jasna
I’ve just installed an exhibition of my work at the Elisabeth C. Miller Horticultural Library at U.W. It’s a pleasure to be here in Seattle, but sadly with the Corona virus health situation, so many events are being cancelled. The opening of the exhibition was postponed to March 28th, but it is not at all certain if that planned event will proceed.
To mark this first day of December 2019, and this last month of the year, here’s another experiment in animation continuing with the bees and text that I posted a week or so ago.
As these are only experiments, the science parts here – the relationship of bees to flowers needs more research, but I enjoy the challenge of balancing the art with the science.
The text fragments are from the beautiful poetry of Eleanor Rand Wilner, and the incredible bees from the Rolfs/Robinson specimens which I am still working through. The plant drawings are based upon my wildflower specimens which I collected last spring and summer in a dream meadow in the Okanagan.
Some of the bees which I have used in this animation:
In honour of World Bee Day, May 20, 2019, I’ve created a composite of experimental cyanotype works using actual bee specimens. (Only dead bees found in the garden were used here). With the 3-dimensional bee forms, the resulting images have considerable blur — where the bee actually touches the sensitized paper, the silhouette of the bee is recorded with some degree of clarity, but in other areas, the forms are more ambiguous. In terms of the text, the work of British poet, Carol Ann Duffy came to mind; her book “The Bees” is a marvellous compendium of her ruminations on bees, on us, and our relationship to the environment. I’ve used fragments from two of her poems to create this animation.
In midwinter, when there are no bees and no flowers in bloom (or very few), and inside work takes precedence, sorting and sifting through images, specimens, and texts becomes the focus. All, in preparation of the new upcoming season.
This winter also, Brian and Crystine Campbell graciously featured some of my work in their 2019 seed catalogue, Uprising Seeds. (UprisingSeeds.com). Thank you so much, Brian and Crystine!
One of the most engaging aspects of my study of pollinators and their floral resources, is that of pollen. So, here is a small selection of some of the unusual colours that I’ve collected — some of the blues!
I’ve included only one native bee in this short animation, a sweat bee, an Agapostemon sp, from the Halictidae family. Not only are these brilliant little bees beautiful, but they even have the capacity to sonicate, or buzz pollinate flowers. What can be more amazing to see than a glorious metallic green bee, with blue eyes, and with blue pollen on its hind legs?
I have been collecting botanical specimens for some time now. The idea of ‘collection’ as a form of knowledge is of interest to me. What happens when one attempts to recreate nature by bringing as many objects as possible into one space? How can renmants and fragmentary things represent the whole or the real?
Sorting through piles and piles of old work, more precisely the cast off sheets of imagery on gampi from the large bee-themed work from 2015, I started to play with the materials; exploring, in a sketchbook, the idea of collections, of possessing nature. Specimens, both botanical and entomological, are instrinsic parts of my new work, and I am reflecting upon my own need to see nature as a collectible entity.