Acta Botanica, Figure 6. Linum


A linen fairytale

Once upon a time, there lived a girl in a village: her red plait reached down to the ground, her cheeks were rosy, her face white, eyes blue like the sky, but her soul black like the earth. She did not like other people, and she did them harm in all kinds of ways. She would cast spells on them, or poison their cattle. But nobody could catch her, because her plait was no ordinary plait, but a magical one – a wave of her plait, and there was no trace of any of her misdeeds.

And so she caused trouble for many years. She found herself a rich husband with a small daughter. Her husband lived with her for some time, and then he died. By this time, the girl was no longer a young girl, but an old woman. In the meantime, her stepdaughter grew up and became a beautiful maiden. All the villagers admired her. The old woman, of course, grew to hate the young girl and decided to ruin her. She put a curse on her stepdaughter and started to give her nothing but hard work, so that the young girl grew thin and weak, until there was nothing left but a pair of eyes. Blue, bright blue eyes.

The girl went to the local wizard and told him about her troubles. But he only said “your stepmother’s anger is great, and she hates you very much. There is nothing I can do to help you. All I can offer is that your final dying wish be granted.”

And the girl died, and in her very last moment she said: “You witch, I wish for you to turn into grass, so that everyone may tear you to pieces, trample on you, rip you and pull at you!”.

And her stepmother turned into Flax, also known as Linen (Linum). Her plait became like grass, and her blue eyes like flowers. Since that day, people have pulled on Linen, tied it up, beaten it, pulled it apart, and spun the Flax plant into a tough fabric.

And for her evil wish, the stepdaughter was turned into a simple weed, the Knapweed. Since then, it has become common for the light blue flower of the Flax plant and the dark blue flower of the Knapweed (Centaurea) to live in the same field.

Original painting by Helena-Alexandra Reut

Mixed technique on Canvas,
30 H x 30 W

Shipping: The artwork will be sealed in a waterproof sleeve and packaged in a sturdy cardboard mailer for shipping.

1 in stock

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Acta Botanica is a series about women and plants. It is a reflection on modernity and tradition, on the forgotten medicinal qualities of herbs, and on the fact that it was often women who knew how to apply natural remedies. It is a story about stories passed down from generation to generation. About the continuous flow of time and the fragrance of a newly-opened bud. But it’s also a practical guide for daily use, here and now; about the things you can buy and consume. About people who can be role models for us. About the role of women in general. Finally, it is simultaneously a very personal confession and a universal tale; a serious contemplation on the world and a lighthearted moment of play.

If you have any questions, please message me. I will get back to you as soon as I can. Thank you for looking!

Paintings purchased are for private use only. All rights to this image remain with the artist Helena-Alexandra Reut, who may reproduce, copy, print or use it for any other type of art.