Born of Flowers

Images by Adam McGrath courtesy of the Canberra Glassworks

Born of Flowers, cast glass and stop-motion animation, 2019.

I first came across the Welsh legend of ‘Blodeuwedd’ in Alan Garner’s young adult novel The Owl Service. In Garner’s story the powerful magic of an ancient myth of transformation is unleashed. Blodeuwedd which means ‘flower-face’ in Welsh is created out of flowers, meadowsweet, oak and broom, to become a human woman. Blodeuwedd has a difficult journey, an unhappy marriage, betrayal and a lover’s death. At the end of these dramatic events she is transformed into an owl.

Despite the tragic elements I have always been drawn to Blodeuwedd. She is created out of the natural world and strives to establish herself in a world where men’s ideas about who she is and how she should behave trap her but she never succumbs to their controlling impulses, in the end she returns to nature as an owl. Depending on who is retelling the story, influences our interpretation of her actions and of the nature of her final transformation.