Immortelle with Purple Skeleton and Painted Lady
2015. h:66cms x w:50cms (framed).
The pink and white Immortelle flower remains unchanging while the purple skeleton dances, joined to the flower by a black bead butterfly. In making this drawing, I had in mind images from Maria Sibylla Merian’s gorgeous book ‘Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensium’ of 1705. This drawing shows the life cycle of the Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) butterfly on the Immortelle flower. I used a plastic toy set of a Painted Lady egg, caterpillar, chrysalis and butterfly from the Natural History Museum, London. I also painted from a faded real antique Painted Lady specimen. I drew around my own hand and used my purple nail varnish to feed the flower. I found a bouquet of large and striking vintage bead flowers in a bric-a-brac market. I read that in the 1800s in some French funerals, glass bead flower wreaths or bouquets called ‘Immortelles’ were left on graves to preserve memories and the wires which supported the beads disintegrated over time. Then, when only a pile of beads remained, the beads were gathered together and re-worked to create new memorials. So, I have separated each Immortelle flower and drawn it with a dancing paper Hallowe'en skeleton (made by my son in primary school) and black antique millinery bead butterflies. I was intrigued by the possibility of echoing still life Vanitas or Memento Mori imagery in this context.
Artwork Group Image: