Wednesday, June 17, 2009

irony and poppies

poppies, originally uploaded by Paul Grand.

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that if you are brought up surrounded by irony you'll probably see it everywhere.
On the other hand, if you've had an irony free upbringing, the opposite will generally apply.

Once as a favor, I did a set of wedding photographs, for an American painter friend and her partner, an English novelist.
I happened to capture a glum faced girl in several shots at their reception in the large poppy filled garden.
The same girl managed to maneuver herself in front of several other groups of similarly, glum faced relatives.
On seeing the photos the cynical, newly published groom accused me of being ironic!
He'd made a classic gaff in mistaking coincidence as a form of irony.

The Bride, thankfully saw no such hidden meaning,
however, and perhaps ironically, the marriage failed and she flew back to the states shortly after the honeymoon period was over.

Personally I find it quite a difficult task to read irony into a shot of a field of poppies, however for many, poppies symbolise all kinds of strange things.
From chocolate box pastoral Monet paintings to "..Flanders fields the poppies blow.."

Most wont see any irony in that famous patriotic poem. However I think the general consensus, after much Googling,
is that if you read it and then re-read it with say a more... 'cynical eye'
You just might have an ironic epiphany and conclude the poem is in fact trying to say the opposite it at first purports.

Getting back to this image, poppies I gather generally grow best in disturbed soil.
Thus the fields of WW1 were ideal sites for seeds to be released after many years entombed underground, seizing their chance of freedom and quickly flowering amongst all that mud and carnage, these opportunistic weeds thrived.

I understand the location of one of Monet's beloved poppy field paintings, painted many years before poppies became sad ironic symbols is now a factory strewn urban wasteland. Few will know that Monet's first wife as pictured tragically died shortly afterward's from supposed cancer. The money he made from those paintings barely covered the cost of medicine for her..

Lets hope with the demolition of those old factories, one day the seeds from those very poppies he painted will be released to grow once more.
Ironically Monet painted these idyllic scenes as a form of direct protest to the onward advance of the modern industrial world.

As for this field, it is sited next door to a large building site. And this field was an old vineyard just one year ago..thus the grubbed up vine roots disturbed the soil.
On one side a new housing estate is being built and the other, stands huge gray prison watch tower overlooking an unfinished high security prison..


Ted said...

"Ironically," the guy staggered as he peered at your picture and his whispered words slurred...

"Ironically, I feel no irony in this image. Nah... none at all."

And then he passed out. From heroin... which is made from....

On the other hand Paul, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. And a field of poppies as soothing to the mind as... as... well... dope :-)

One wonders if Madam Monet's medications were pain killers derived from poppies? Nah... now that would be too ironic.

Or perhaps just coincidental.

paulgrand said...

Cool, thanks for that input, you've really opened up the old irony thing, one could take it on and on.

Incidentally, I would certainly hope his wife was on the old poppy, it was after all the artists choice drug at the time, in 'opium dens'
after absinthe.

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