Another bee or two are to be found in my new work this week; a small study, in oil on canvas, of summer bees enjoying the hedgerow flowers along one of my favourite riverside walks. The composition and colours are what first drew me in to this subject (the complex creamy-white of the flower heads against the deep velveteen-plush of the bumble bee) but as I began to play with the arrangement of stems, it was as though the subject was leading me to notice something else. The strokes I was wanting to make felt dynamic, energetic, vibrating and alive, like spokes of a wheel coming out from the axis of all the gently humming activity that was going on here; this was no “still life”!
The word “axis” got me thinking about all the centrifugal forces at work in our world and I wanted to convey this in the title somehow. After all, bees are the centre of everything, in their way; far more essential to the way our planet works – and our survival on it – than many people realise and then these expansive, light-filled flower-heads (which start as tight pom-pom buds, unspiralling) burst out from multiple stems that derive from a single stalk, which is a pattern repeated over and over again in nature. Following the thread from “centrifugal”, I found the perfect word – “inflorescence“. It refers to a group or cluster of flowers arranged on a stem that is composed of a main branch (axis) or to a complicated arrangement of branches. It is the very point where cellular modifications are made or, you could say, the decision taken to branch-out and to blossom instead of continuing as a single stalk. Inflorescent can therefore be used to refer to the very process of “flowering”.
As the human race, we to could be said to have become a very “complicated arrangement of branches” indeed and yet, ultimately, we are still just a collection of many stems derived from a single axis-point. Ask most people and they will tell you life is almost too complex to take in, so many factors to consider, so much going on to distract, not enough time to get everything done, to make ideal decisions – or so it can seem. Yet when, like the bee, we focus on living in the now, taking-up the natural opportunities that are right on our patch and doing those activities that bring us the most heart-centred bliss, poising all the busyness and buzz of our daily activity on and around the very centre of our natural being (not forcing ourselves off-centre to focus on matters and occupations that don’t feel in alignment with our intrinsic self), all becomes alright again somehow; we re-find our axis point – both singularly and as a collective. There is such huge dynamic potential in this – once anchored to the knowing of our fundamental connection at the axis of all things, and that we can really do no wrong when we follow the heart in each moment, it is at this point that flowering really starts to happen; for ourselves and for everyone.
“Inflorescence” – framed oil on canvas 30 x 30 cm – www.helenwhite.org.uk