Wednesday, 8 October 2014
I went to meet Dr Mark Spencer at the Natural History Museum in London the other day (for a different project about invasive plants) and while he was showing me some very old specimens in their collection I spotted a dandelion. It was collected by Joseph Andrews of Sudbury and it's dated 1743 and labeled as Leontodon Taraxacum the old Latin name for the flower.
Monday, 29 September 2014
I've been away in NYC for 10 days this month where I was researching invasive plant species for a commission i'm working on. It was a really brilliant trip - i met with other artists whose work deals with issues surrounding ecology, climate change and invasive species and i tried to connect with scientists and ecologists who work in the city. While there I also had time to go to galleries and museums and walk all over the city.
The dandelion is used to symbolize hope and i saw a beautiful example of this as I walked past the 9/11 Memorial site. The large image of the dandelion seed head was used to cover one of the construction barriers that continue to surround areas of the site.
Friday, 29 August 2014
I have a copy of The Story of Living Things and Their Evolution by Eileen Mayo. With a foreword by Professor Julian Huxley, the book has nearly 1000 beautiful illustrations by Mayo.
Dandelions are used as an example of how some plants make movements in response to light, dark, warmth, cold and touch.
Thursday, 21 August 2014
I have a copy of The Third Girl Annual. It's undated but has a handwritten message inside the front cover dated 1954. There's a lovely Country Names piece written by Kenneth Sparrow that looks at flowers and the origins of their names. It has beautiful illustrations by Harry A Pettit. Of Dandelions it says this:
"The common Dandelion in bud is sometimes called 'swines snout' because the bud has a turned up end like a pig's snout. The name Dandelion probably refers to the jagged leaves. The divisions of the leaf are rather tooth-like. The French word for tooth is 'dent'. The flower of the Dandelion is yellow and rather like the mane of a lion. From all this we have the word dent-de-lion... lions tooth; and dent-de-lion slurred quickly becomes Dandelion."
I find that rum helps to slur your words - works a treat.
Wednesday, 13 August 2014
There's a Healthy Planet bookshop here in Preston where you can donate books and also have books for free too. With moving house (again) and trying to down size I decided to take a bag of unwanted books to the bookshop today.
Under no circumstances was i allowed to come home with any more books. And so, with this strict rule in mind, i came away with a book.
It's How Flowers Grow, published by Macdonald and Company with lovely illustrations - they haven't named the artist but there are initials PAL by some of the images.
There are 3 dandelion illustrations: one on the cover and 2 inside the book. Rules are made to be broken - so i had to have it for the Dandelion Archive.
Wednesday, 6 August 2014
According to my book Plant Folklore, Pocket Reference Digest, by Geddes and Grosset (published in 1999):
"The individual seeds [of a dandelion], as they drift on the breeze, are said to be fairies, and it was considered lucky to catch one because when it was let go a wish would be granted."
Monday, 14 July 2014
Tuesday, 1 July 2014
Again in Iceland I saw these dandelions on a beautiful painting Icelandic Melody by Icelandic painter Johannes Sveinsson Kjarval (1885 - 1971) at the Reykjavik Art Museum. Kjarval painted the Icelandic landscape and often spent days and sometimes weeks in the countryside painting the larva fields, waterfalls and flora of the country. He sometimes included fantasies and imaginary scenes in his paintings too - and this one is a good example of that.
Monday, 30 June 2014
While in Iceland I bought these lovely paper napkins with Dandelions on. One side has the design of the full plant, on the other side a close up of the flower head. They are by Hekla Icelandi Design found here:
I bought them in Reykjavik but at 990 Krona they are probably the most expensive paper napkins i've ever bought (that's more than £5), however they are for the Dandelion Archive so i had to have them.
Friday, 27 June 2014
While on my travels in Iceland I saw this window display celebrating the beauty of dandelions in the town of Akureyri. Known as the capital of the north of Iceland it's a lovely coastal town overlooking the fjord Eyjafjordur. It was a beautiful sunny day while i was there so it was nice to explore the place. I also visited the Botanical Gardens and collected a dandelion leaf specimen for the Dandelion Diaries.
Using real dandelion flowers to display ceramics is a cute idea and although i didn't get the chance to ask any locals their thoughts on dandelions, I got the feeling its viewed with fondness.
Wednesday, 25 June 2014
I have just returned from two weeks travelling in Iceland: an absolutely amazing trip in a stunning landscape. I was delighted to see that the dandelions on the island were still in full bloom or just going into seed, so I was able to collect leaf samples for the Dandelion Diaries, plus get lots of images of dandelions in various locations.
The Icelandic for dandelion is Túnfífill and many areas of Iceland were covered in sunny yellow flowers. I loved it!
Friday, 30 May 2014
The image of the dandelion seed head is used on lots of products and i'm always on the look out to collect examples for the Dandelion Archive.
Here is the packaging for Sainsbury's Super Soft Toilet Tissue (pure white) which is apparently 'luxuriously soft' and has been 'specially designed to combine luxury softness with strength'. They advise that 'for best cleanliness and freshness why not use together with Sainsbury's Moist Toilet Tissue?' Slightly over promoting the consumption of more throwaway products.
The best claim is that 'buying this product helps you care for the world's forests'
I've never quite understood the equation of buying more paper products = the protection of forests.
Anyway, i bought and used the toilet paper, sorry 'tissue' so i could have the wrapping in the archive. I've never experienced luxury like it.
I found this a couple of years ago - so not sure if it's still available.
Friday, 23 May 2014
I've been making little films about urban wildlife - making observations of nature in what we might think are unlikely places.
One of the films is about dandelions and how they spread and live almost anywhere. Filmed along the A583 it shows a thin verge of grass wedged between the tarmac road and concrete path that's dotted with dandelion flowers that have self seeded there.
Click on the link below to see the film:
Wednesday, 7 May 2014
I was looking through old books from when i was little and found this absolutely delightful reference to a dandelion in Winnie-the-Pooh by AA Milne with beautiful illustrations by EH Shepard.
'The Piglet was sitting on the ground at the door of his house blowing happily at a dandelion, and wondering whether it would be this year, next year, sometime, or never. He had just discovered it would be never, and was trying to remember what "it" was, and hoping it wasn't anything nice, when Pooh came up.'
Thursday, 24 April 2014
In the Dandelion Archive I have a sample of lovely fabric from Boden called Dandelion Heather - it was used for the Florence top a couple of years ago.
However, it is another example of an incorrect depiction of a dandelion (see post below too). Dandelions don't have leaves on the flowering stalks, so technically it's not a dandelion. Sorry to be picky. Maybe the designer wasn't too bothered whether or not it was accurate - which isn't so bad, only this design is just about the least dandelion looking dandelion i've seen.
Sunday, 20 April 2014
It's that time of year in the UK when we celebrate the chocolate industry and buy over priced, excessively wrapped egg shaped chocolate. Although this chocfest is at a different time of the year every year it happens to coincide with Easter too. What are the chances of that? So to mark this odd festival i found this old card. As it goes the dandelions don't have any sepals so it is technically incorrect - but it's a nice image all the same.
Monday, 14 April 2014
Purely in the interests of research I watch Coronation Street as often as i can and in doing so have spotted a rather marvelous example of dandelions. Carla and love rat Peter have the Sanderson Dandelion Clock wallpaper on their apartment wall - how very posh. I managed to get a screen shot of a rather sweaty Peter in front of the wall - ooooh if those dandelion clocks could talk...
Monday, 7 April 2014
My Dandelion blog covers lots of dandelion related things: science and research, art and cultural references, folklore and stories etc and there seems to be an endless supply of material to put on the blog. With reference to the post below about Ray Bradbury's book Dandelion Wine I found that in 1971 the Apollo 15 astronauts named a crater on the moon after Bradbury's novel. So, dandelions are even on the moon too. Here is an image of Dandelion Crater and a link to the original image:
Saturday, 5 April 2014
Today is National Dandelion Day!! (according to the internet...)
So, to celebrate I recommend you go out and buy a copy of Ray Bradbury's Dandelion Wine. Written in 1957, it is a really wonderful book - poetic, sad and moving.
Here's the front cover of my copy with art work by designedbydavid.co.uk
Happy Dandelion Day!
Friday, 4 April 2014
I was thinking the other day that there really should be a National Dandelion Day and if i were to choose a date when would the best date be. Anyhow i did some tinternet browsing this morning and found that not only is there already a National Dandelion Day - but apparently it's tomorrow!!*
I'm struggling to find the origin of the day: who decided there should be one, why that date in particular etc, but with most things on the internet, if it's been written down - it must be true.
And so sharing the date with 'National Bell Bottoms Day' and 'National Read a Road Map Day' (i'm not kidding) 5th April is National Dandelion Day**. Brilliant!
*It's also mentioned on a couple of websites that it is the 1st Saturday of May every year - so i suppose you can take your pick.
**It also seems that most websites are American - so i'm supposing National refers to there and not UK, however I'm happy to celebrate the day. Probably with a beer.
Wednesday, 2 April 2014
I mentioned in an earlier post that Fox Talbot had made a very early photograph of dandelion seeds in 1853, well Anna Atkins (1799 - 1871), recognized as the first female photographer, also made a very early cyanotype of a dandelion plant in 1854. The incredibly beautiful print is held in the V&A collection:
Wednesday, 26 March 2014
I was in Glasgow the other week on a trip to visit galleries and see a couple of people - and while exploring the city I saw this massive mural on the side of a building overlooking a car park. I'm reliably informed it's painted by the artist Smug and it shows Scottish wildlife through the seasons - and there's a huge, beautiful dandelion at the bottom right hand side of the wall. Fabulous! The cars in the image give you a sense of scale.
Tuesday, 25 March 2014
Monday, 17 March 2014
It's that time of year when the shelves in various shops are stocked with weed killers and pesticides ready for the new killing season of unwanted plants that crop up in garden lawns, paths, flowerbeds and patios. Being so recognizable, the dandelion if often used to promote weedkillers. The dandelion is a great plant for infuriating the perfectionist gardener with its persistent resilience.
Here, on a Bayer Garden product, the dandelion is not only the star on the front of the packaging, but also in diagram form on the reverse - showing how the product is taken in by the plant to the roots.
Thursday, 13 March 2014
I've not mentioned real dandelions on the blog for a while - with being away in India for 2 months in November and December and then coming back to UK and it being winter - there hasn't been any of note around. I have continued to collect dandelion leaves for the Dandelion Diaries (apart from in India where i didn't find one example).
However, it's now the time of year that dandelions start to come out and i saw a few the other week starting to flower at the side of the road. This last week has been nice mild weather so dandelions are coming out in full force and providing the new queen bumblebees and other early insects with a vital food source.
I went to Brockholes Nature Reserve yesterday in the sunshine and there's also coltsfoot, celandine and lots of daffodils in full bloom - yellow is so in this season darling.
Wednesday, 12 March 2014
I have a beautiful book Creations of a Moment: The Photography of William Henry Fox Talbot by Geoffrey Batchen, published by Phaidon Press, which is a celebration of the photographic work of Talbot (1800 - 1877). Batchen says:
'Talbot experimented with photography throughout his life, making pioneering images of his home, Lacock Abbey, portraits of family and friends, and still lifes of plant specimens, pieces of lace, and many other objects of the time.'
I have no doubt that plate 51 in the book shows dandelion seeds. It's entitled 'Seeds' and was made c.1853. Revealing their beauty it must be one of the first photographic images of dandelion seeds.
Thursday, 27 February 2014
I was in Liverpool the other week and visited the Walker Art Gallery while there. In one of the galleries is this huge silhouette of a dandelion by Paul Morrison. It's been on display for a while - but i've not had my camera with me until now to get a shot of it.
Topocline was made in 2005 and is industrial powder coated aluminium and galvanised steel.
Wednesday, 19 February 2014
I went to see The Vanity of Small Differences at Manchester City Art Gallery the other week. It's an absolutely wonderful exhibition with 6 large tapestries by Grayson Perry. Inspired by William Hogarth's A Rake's Progress, the tapestries show the influence of class on aesthetic taste.
I noticed a rather beautiful dandelion on The Upper Class at Bay - shown at the front of the image above.
The show is no longer at Manchester Art Gallery, but has moved on to Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery until May 11th - so you have plenty of time to go and see the the exhibition.
Thursday, 13 February 2014
'I didn't notice the label until I was well into the bottle (hence the poor job cleaning and peeling it off ha, ha)'
Well, in the interests of the Dandelion Archive I think she's done a splendid job and the label is now catalogued and safely in the archive of all things dandelion related.
Sunday, 9 February 2014
Here is another really random use of a dandelion on a 5kg bag of Tesco's lumpwood charcoal for barbecues. I collected a piece of the bag from a friend last summer - it's a bit torn as they were about to throw it out. I like the way the image fades to smog at the top of the bag - lighter fuel and charcoal smoke induced no doubt. I can smell the under cooked, but burnt meat from here - ah, the smell of a lukewarm suburban summer evening - lovely.
Tuesday, 4 February 2014
Ages ago I went to Rome for a few days to visit galleries and museums and eat lovely food and drink great wine - a fab trip.
While there I visited the Galleria Borghese - an amazing museum with some of the world's most incredibly beautiful artworks, and it was while in the gallery i spotted a dandelion.
If you look very carefully it's in the bottom left corner - a tall dandelion with a head of seeds in a perfect globe - in this La Deposizione di Cristo painted in 1507 by Raffaello Sanzio. Standing on it's own on pretty bare ground i'm not sure what it symbolizes here - the transition of life from one state into another perhaps?
Thursday, 30 January 2014
In March 2010 I posted information on the symbolism of the dandelion and how it is the flower of St Brigid - but also how i'd never found an image showing St Brigid with a dandelion. On the blog I quoted a lovely poem by Winifred Mabel Letts (1882 - 1972)
The dandelion lights its spark
Lest Brigid find the wayside dark.
And Brother Wind comes rollicking
For joy that she has brought the spring.
Young lambs and little furry folk
Seek shelter underneath her cloak.
I received an email the other day from a lady called Bairbre in Dublin to say she had a copy of the image that accompanied and poem published by Cuala Press (run by Elizabeth and Lily Yeats - sisters of William and Jack Butler Yeats) - and she could send me a scan for the blog. Fabulous!
And what a delightful drawing it is by Kathleen Verschoyle, the step daughter of WM Letts.
Don't forget it's St Brigid's feast day on 1st February - celebrate the coming of spring!
Monday, 27 January 2014
I have some pretty random things in the dandelion archive - here is a 2005 poster from Preston City Council and the Preston Primary Care Trust:
It's coming, we are aiming for a smoke free Preston. All vehicles and buildings will be smoke free from 1st November 2005.
The dandelion seed head is often used to symbolize fresh air - a blowing breeze etc... Maybe in this case it also refers to the time passing before the rules are enforced? Or i might be over thinking that one. I found the poster in a disused council building - apparently empty since 2005 with this old poster still on the notice board.
Friday, 24 January 2014
I've not dared to use the cup and saucer and they still have their labels on, unlike the oven gloves (see below) that are well and truly used and abused daily.