Crocus by Tom Perkins
Crocus by Tom Perkins
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This carving by Tom Perkins, celebrates the word ‘Crocus’, and was created as part of our exhibition ‘The Lost Words - Forget-me-not.’ For this exhibition artists have created a permanent record of the natural words removed from the Oxford Junior Dictionary. Size: 22 x 46cm
A small spring-flowering Eurasian plant of the iris family, which grows from a corm and bears bright yellow, purple, or white flowers.
Genus Crocus, family Iridaceae.
Origin: Late Middle English (also denoting saffron, obtained from a species of crocus): via Latin from Greek krokos, of Semitic origin and related to Hebrew karkōm and Arabic kurkum
British gardeners cherish the Crocus as the herald of spring. In fact different species of crocus – purple, yellow, pink, white, honey-scented beauties – are in bloom for half the year. That it should be one of the words deleted from the Oxford Junior Dictionary makes the unfounded assumption that crocuses are no longer relevant to largely urban Western childhood. But there is no doubting the appeal of the natural world today. Witness the television audiences for gardening programmes, the Chelsea Flower Show, Planet Earth, Countryfile…. The artist Ian Hamilton Finlay likewise affirms this in his collaborative inscriptional work, using the repetition of flower names to bring out the inherent poetry in the words themselves.
In high-tech Western society, sight must not be lost of counterbalancing values rooted and grounded in the natural world. Kathleen Raine, one of our greatest twentieth-century poets, reiterates this constantly in her work. In the 1980s she wrote: ‘many super-subtle fellow citizens of London, New York and San Francisco and the rest will know that I speak for us all. Let civilisation sink – it is sinking in any case and we all know it – and give us back sun, moon and stars, the hills and the sky and the winds and our lost works when times and places were ours…’
Access to rich and diverse possibilities in childhood, including am appreciation of the natural world, may have a profound influence on lives. As Professor Keith Critchlow writes in The Hidden Geometry of Flowers, ‘We can only “flower” ourselves when we pay due reverence to the flowering plant world and the primary elements that keep them in being.’