As Greek Easter was so late this year, May day fell on Easter Sunday. Yikes – it was all happening at once! I made a speedy floral wreath in the studio garden, before heading off to the taverna to meet friends for the big easter feast. The geraniums are really at their peak at the moment, so they were the obvious flower of choice for the job.
The first of May ( Protomayia in Greek) is the day Greece celebrates Spring. An enduring and delightful May Day tradition is the making of a wreath – a stefani – of wild flowers. The wreath is hung – usually above the front door – to welcome spring into the house and celebrate nature and the change of seasons.
The custom has its roots in ancient Greece. May (Maios) – the last month of Spring, is named after the Roman Goddess Maia – the Greek word for midwife, nurse and mother. According to Greek folklore, May has two meanings – the good and the bad; rebirth and death. The stephani custom celebrates the victory of summer over winter as the victory of life over death. May was also dedicated to Dimitra the goddess of agriculture and her daughter Persephone, who would return to her mother in May, after spending the winter with Hades in the underworld.
As well as using them in the stephani, I’ve been quite obsessed with geraniums recently. They have found their way into lots of my recent artwork photos, such as the above sketch done on location in the grounds of Koroni Monastery.
‘Santorini Flower’ is an altered postcard painting of a geranium, created on a vintage postcard sent from Santorini in the 1980’s! I’ve left the drawing of the budding geranium as a black and white line drawing to contrast graphically with the painterly background. The original postcard art is shown on the left here, posing in a crisp white mount and simple frame.
Whilst driving over to Finikounda for their Easter Monday celebrations, I was struck by the current array of wild flowers by the roadside, with bright red poppies and ‘the yellows’ as Mick calls them, being the dominant flowers of the moment. Peppered with a sprinkling of other colours, they looked striking against the vibrant greens of the wild bushes and horta and the shiny olive green of the groves.
I hope to have captured something of this spectacular seasonal display in ‘May Flowers’ – a vibrant mixed media painting created from my studio stash of hand-decorated papers. It’s newly available on the website as an open edition giclee print on watercolour paper. The 30x30cm option is designed so it fits neatly into this Ikea Ribba 50cm frame.
It also looks great as a stretched canvas reproduction (my favourite) which is ready to hang on your wall.
Many thanks to my good friend Looloo Brown for allowing me to photograph my artwork in her beautiful Vassilitsi village house, “Pilinos”.