Assignment 5: Research

August 2018:  This assignment is part of the Diploma in Printmaking I have been doing since February 2017.  This is a mixed media project and asks for researching a project with sketches, drawings, photos, to finally work on 3 mixed media prints.

1 August:  For the reading part of my research, I am reading Landscape and Memory by Simon Schama. 

I am not sure where this project will take me as I am going to include everything that emerges to do with landscape, the mythology of landscape, the poetry of landscape, my walks in the parks and gardens where I live in north London, UK: as well as paintings, artists and so on….

3 August:  Places Mentioned in my reading today:  the forest of Allemania, Hercynian Forest which stretched for a thousand miles and took six days to cross., a primeval place of wonderful and wild beasts and birds of bright feathers.  Pliny mentioned it : Strange Birds inhabited this forest.  The Black Forest is now all that remains.  I have visited this amazing place, it is truly magical

The Hercynian Forest was an ancient and dense forest that stretched eastward from the Rhine River across southern Germany and formed the northern boundary of that part of Europe known to writers of antiquity. The ancient sources  are equivocal about how far east it extended. All agree that the Black Forest, which extended east from the Rhine valley, formed the western side of the Hercynian.

Across the Rhine to the west extended the Silva Carbonaria and the forest of the Ardennes. All these old-growth forests of antiquity represented the original post-glacial temperate broadleaf forest ecosystem of Europe.

Relict tracts of this once-continuous forest exist with many local names: the Schwarzwald (“Black Forest”), Odenwald, Spessart Rhön, Thüringerwald (Thuringian Forest), Harz, Rauhe Alb, Steigerwald, Fichtelgebirge, Erzgebirge, Riesengebirge, the Bohemian Forest, and the forested Carpathians. The Mittelgebirge seem to correspond more or less to a stretch of the Hercynian mountains.

Classical Greece: Artemis and Apollo and the sacred groves

Artemis (/ˈɑːrtɪmɪs/; Greek: Ἄρτεμις Artemis, Attic Greek: [ár.te.mis]) was one of the most widely venerated of the Ancient Greek deities. Her Roman equivalent is Diana. Some scholars believe that the name, and indeed the goddess herself, was originally pre-Greek.Homer refers to her as Artemis Agrotera, Potnia Theron: “Artemis of the wildland, Mistress of Animals”. The Arcadians believed she was the daughter of Demeter.

In the classical period of Greek mythology, Artemis was often described as the daughter of Zeus and Leto, and the twin sister of Apollo. She was the Hellenic goddess of the hunt, wild animals, wilderness, childbirth, virginity and protector of young girls, bringing and relieving disease in women; she often was depicted as a huntress carrying a bow and arrows.The deer and the cypress were sacred to her. In later Hellenistic times, she even assumed the ancient role of Eileithyia in aiding childbirth.

The Tree Oracle

Tacitus :  Marcus Claudius Tacitus Augustus  c. 200 – June 276), was Roman Emperor from 275 to 276. During his short reign he campaigned against the Goths and the Heruli, for which he received the title Gothicus Maximus.  He wrote a book Germania:

The Germania begins with a description of the lands, laws, and customs of the Germanic people (chapters 1–27); it then describes individual tribes, beginning with those dwelling closest to Roman lands and ending on the uttermost shores of the Baltic, among the amber-gathering Aesti, the Fenni, and the unknown tribes beyond them.

Tacitus says that physically, the Germanic peoples appear to be a distinct nation, not an admixture of their neighbors, since nobody would desire to migrate to a climate as horrid as that of Germania. They derive their ancestry from three sons of Mannus, son of Tuisto, their common forefather. In chapter 4, he mentions that they all have common physical characteristics, blue eyes (truces et caerulei oculi = “sky-coloured, azure, dark blue, dark green), reddish hair ( rutilae comae = “red, golden-red, reddish yellow”), and large bodies, vigorous at the first onset but not tolerant of exhausting labour, tolerant of hunger and cold, but not of heat or thirst.[1]

In chapter 7, Tacitus describes their government and leadership as somewhat merit-based and egalitarian, with leadership by example rather than authority, and punishments are carried out by the priests. He mentions (chapter 8) that the opinions of women are given respect. In chapter 11, Tacitus describes a form of folk assembly rather similar to the public Things recorded in later Germanic sources: in these public deliberations, the final decision rests with the men of the tribe as a whole.

Tacitus further discusses the role of women in chapters 7 and 8, mentioning that they often accompany the men to battle and offer encouragement. He says that the men are often highly motivated to fight for the women because of an extreme fear of losing them to captivity. Tacitus says (chapter 18) that the Germans are mainly content with one wife, except for a few political marriages, and specifically and explicitly compares this practice favorably to other barbarian cultures, perhaps since monogamy was a shared value between Roman and Germanic cultures. He also records (chapter 19) that adultery is very rare, and that an adulterous woman is shunned afterward by the community regardless of her beauty. In chapter 45, Tacitus mentions that the tribe to the north of the Germans, the Sitones, “resemble [the Suevi Scandinavians] in all respects but one – woman is the ruling sex.”[2]

It must have been impossible for someone like Tacitus who came from the riches and debauchery of Rome to compare these two different tribes: the Romans with their opulence, rich food, clothes and debate, with these primitive Germanic tribes who wore rough fur clothes and lived in the forests, eating simple foods, berries etc.  and who are burned once they die, with natural woods from the forest to affirm this important bond.

People and Objects Mentioned: Gilgamesh’s journey to the centre of the Cedar Forest in the Epic of Gilgamesh.

The Teutonic God Wotan hanged himself in the Yggdrasil tree, the Nordic symbol of the universe.  The woodland rituals of the German tribes are tribal rebirth ceremonies and remembrances rather than barbaric acts as thought of by Tacitus. These rituals came to cast the longest shadow over the fate of German nationalism.

Yggdrasil is an immense mythical tree that connects the nine worlds in Norse cosmology. Yggdrasil is attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century 



  • Caspar David Friedrich

Caspar David Friedrich, the huntsman

Anselm Kiefer:   A beginners guide

Anselm Kiefer was born in Donaueschingen, a small town in Germany’s Black Forest on 8th March 1945, shortly before the end of the Second World War. He grew up in a country divided and struggling with its sense of past and future. While many German artists of his era shied away from their country’s recent history, Kiefer confronted it directly. His first major work – and arguably still his most controversial – was 1969’s ‘Occupations’: a series of photographs depicting the artist in his father’s military uniform performing the Nazi salute.


Kiefer: Tree with Palette

The Roman commentator Tacitus

Religion in Germania was practised in forest groves.  Tacitus write about these Sabian tribes who offered human sacrifices and displayed the corpse on a tree trunk

The cult of fertility : apollo

Arcadia was imagined in both Roman and German cultures as a wooded rocky place, the haunt of satyrs.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

People mentioned so far by Schama:

Julius Von Brinken :

Nietszche and Jung both investigated nature myths

Anselm Kiefer and his ash book bound in beech wood with leaves and seeds as pages, The Cauterization of the rural District of Bucen 1974, the conflagration of war

Czeslaw Milosz was born in Szetejnie in Lithuania in 1911, which at the time was a part of the Russian Empire. Miłosz spoke fluent Polish, Russian, English and French, and was an accomplished translator as well as a novelist and poet. Miłosz wrote in Polish and is considered an integral part of the modern Polish literary canon, however, Miłosz never forgot his Lithuanian origins: I am a Polish not a Lithuanian poet. But the landscapes and perhaps the spirits of Lithuania have never abandoned me.

The first verse of his 1943 poem The Poor Poet, also featured in Modern Poetry in Translation No.1, and is a moving illustration of the effects of totalitarianism and repression:

The first movement is singing,
A free voice, filling mountains and valleys.
The first movement is joy,
But it is taken away.

Later this poem continues:

Some take refuge in despair, which is sweet
Like strong tobacco, like a glass of vodka drunk in the hour of annihilation.
Others have the hope of fools, rosy as erotic dreams.

Any Warburg : The path of Social Memory.  The Library of Aby Warburg;

Claude Francois Denecourt : who invented the romantic hike in the woods of Fontainebleu.


Joel Barlow : poet and mythographer (March 24, 1754 – December 26, 1812) was an American poet, diplomat, and politician.In politics, he supported the French Revolution and was an ardent Jeffersonian.  In his own time, Barlow was known especially for the epic Vision of Columbus,  He also helped draft the Treaty of Tripoli in 1796, which includes the phrase: “the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion”.

Clio, The Muse of History, her mother Mnemosyne, vulnerable to the dark mediurges of irrational myths :  In Hesiod’s Theogony, kings and poets receive their powers of authoritative speech from their possession of Mnemosyne and their special relationship with the Muses.  Zeus and Mnemosyne slept together for nine consecutive nights, thus conceiving the nine Muses. Mnemosyne also presided over a pool[2] in Hades, counterpart to the river Lethe, according to a series of 4th century BC Greek funerary inscriptions in dactylic hexameter. Dead souls drank from Lethe so they would not remember their past lives when reincarnated. In Orphism, the initiated were taught to instead drink from the Mnemosyne, the river of memory, which would stop the transmigration of the soul.

Appearance in oral literature : Jupiter, disguised as a shepherd, tempts Mnemosyne, goddess of memory by Jacob de Wit (1727) Although she was categorized as one of the Titans in the Theogony, Mnemosyne didn’t quite fit that distinction. Titans were hardly worshiped in Ancient Greece, and were thought of as so archaic as to belong to the ancient past. They resembled historical figures more than anything else. Mnemosyne, on the other hand, traditionally appeared in the first few lines of many oral epic poems —she appears in both the Iliad and the Odyssey, among others—as the speaker called upon her aid in accurately remembering and performing the poem he was about to recite. Mnemosyne is thought to have been given the distinction of “Titan” because memory was so important and basic to the oral culture of the Greeks that they deemed her one of the essential building blocks of civilization in their creation myth.

And places and things:

The Liberty Tree : its origins in Egyptian mythology and the Osiris resurrection

The Gothic Arch which comes from the meeting of tree branches into a point

The wild forests of Lithuania and Poland