Thursday, December 13, 2012
This is a linocut of the Greek myth of Persephone. The ancient Greek goddess Persephone, beloved daughter of Demeter was kidnapped by Hades, god of the underworld, and taken to his home where she was tempted with many delicious items. The pomegranate proved the most irresistible and sealed her fate. For the six pomegranate seeds she accepted from Hades, she was required to return every year for six months, where she became Hades' queen. During her absence (autumn and winter) her mother the grain goddess grieves, and the plants whither and die until they are reborn on her return; this explains the seasons.
The print is in a variable edition of 6 on lovely Japanese kozo (or mulberry) paper, 11 inches or 28 cm square. The block was inked 'à la poupée', with different colours applied directly to a single block. Persephone is deep indigo, with red pomegranate, lips and poppy and golden wheat.
I've depicted Persephone with a poppy and wheat crown for symbolic reasons. She was an agrarian goddess, hence the wheat. The poppy was used as an offering for the dead in Greek and Roman myth. It is associated with sleep, including eternal sleep. The bright red colour of the poppy is also a promise of resurrection, much like spring coming with Persephone's yearly return. (Which I discovered when I dressed as Persephone for a Winter Solstice feast and costume party one year).