Fern by Fiona Flack

Fern by Fiona Flack


This carving in riven slate by Fiona Flack, celebrates the word ‘Fern’, 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: 19 x 40cm


A flowerless plant which has feathery or leafy fronds and reproduces by spores released from the undersides of the fronds. Ferns have a vascular system for the transport of water and nutrients.

Class Filicopsida, division Pteridophyta

ORIGIN: Old English fearn, of West Germanic Origin; related to Dutch varen and German Farn.

I was saddened to find out that so many words from the natural world were being removed from the Oxford Junior Dictionary. When so many environmental issues are being highlighted every day we should be increasing a child's vocabulary and understanding of the natural world, not reducing it. So I was keen to take part in this exhibition, to carve these words in stone so that they will never be forgotten. FERNS have been around for up to 350 million years, one of the first plants to live on land and help make oxygen. We owe a lot to the humble fern! It reminds me of holidays and innocent times, playing in the woods and now watching my own children building dens in the forest among the carpet of ferns and bracken in the Scottish highlands.

I have always loved foliage plants. The fern has to be my favourite. It has something of a magical and poetic quality. Often used as background plants in the garden, their particular beauty gets overlooked. To me the fern is a forgotten hero.

The inspiration for my piece came while I was on a family holiday. A display at The Forest of Dean Heritage Centre caught my eye; it housed a small fern fossil. This seemed like the perfect way to express the fern’s longevity. The material that I have chosen to use is riven slate. I wanted my piece to look as if it had just been split open, revealing the fern within for the first time. The lettering is uncurling like the unfurling fronds of a fern.

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