Friday 31 December 2021

Los Pensamientos


197 Pensamientos (thoughts) to represent every country in the world. Painted by J R Shepherd during her isolation from the Covid 19 Pandemic in 2020 whilst in her studio high up in the mountains of Granada, Spain. The piece is titled after the Spanish name for pansy as not only was Jessica in Spain during this historic moment, but the name, akin to the French 'Pensée', has a double meaning for 'thoughts'. In the language of flowers, a pansy means that someone is 'thinking of you'. Often used as a get-well flower, pansies can show that you sympathise with someone's pain and distress, in this case, a country. Each pansy in this piece has been painted individually on a 15 x 15cm square and was posted to a recipient somewhere in the world. The finished posie of 197, is the complete collection of all of these tiny paintings. Masquerading in the final piece of 200, Jessica included three imposters, who have appropriated the pansy patterns to go unnoticed.

Final piece is 300cm x 150cm

In Italy, the pansy is known as 'flammola' (little flame),  and I rather like that. A little flame of hope. Hope in the dark. They are petals of nostalgia, happy flowers. Gateways, representative of the portals of our hidden transformations as we shelter in our houses from Covid-19. They are botanical butterflies.

On account of its popularity in both society and its recurring appearances in Romantic poetry, a variety of new nicknames for the flower began to circulate. Dorothea Lynde Dix proclaims that:

“Perhaps no flower claims to be so universal a favorite, as the viola tricolor; none currently has been honored with so rich a variety of names, at once expressive of grace, delicacy and tenderness.”  

Many of these names play on the whimsical nature of love, including “Three Faces under a Hood,” “Flame Flower,” “Jump Up and Kiss Me,” “Flower of Jove,” and “Pink of my John.” In Hamlet, Ophelia distributes flowers with the remark, "There are pansies, that's for thoughts."  Interestingly, Margaret Mitchell originally chose Pansy as the name for her 'Gone with the Wind' heroine, but settled on Scarlett just before the book went into print.

With time the Pansy has also become a symbol of two faithful lovers who are separated by distance. This also seemed apt under the circumstances of Covid-19 lockdowns. I knew many couples who were trapped in different countries as they rode out the pandemic unable to see or hold one another.

The Thoughts