When looking back on the year 2020 I repeatedly hear that while it has been devastating for some, it has by and large enabled us to pause, put life on hold and think. My thoughts have ranged from life at home, the environment, the things I miss beyond my immediate locality. For me, not travelling has been the thing I missed most.
As a result, I went on safari. I spent a good deal of time looking around my immediate surrounds and found myself fascinated with the natural world and needed to take a much longer and close look.
Whilst the eponymously named Calliphora Vomitoria more commonly known as the Blue Bottle Fly, is by and large considered an unwelcome guest, a nuisance and, if you pause to think about is a sign of decay. Take a closer look and you find a thing of beauty. A shiny shell like surface with two simple eyes, each containing between 8,000 smaller “eyes” or facets which are red in colour.
Its cousin, the Musca Autumnalis is, as the name suggests more autumnal in colour, being predominantly golden brown in colour.
These two flies, in death, allowed me to juxtapose them with significant English landmarks. These places, whilst architecturally significant, have a tangential link to death, suffering or decay.
Rodin’s Burghers of Calais commemorates the events of 1346 when the English King Edward III besieged the town of Calais for 6 months. Leaders of the city were asked to surrender to the king, in order to save the town. They were ordered to leave the city walls wearing nooses around their necks and carrying the keys to the city gates. Legend has it that Queen Phillipa of Hainault convinced Edward, her husband, to spare the men and the City. Rodin has recorded the moment the men left the city gates in the belief that they are about to sacrifice themselves. The statue was loaned to Compton Verney for a temporary exhibition. A giant fly apparently hovers over the estate.
Stonehenge is widely considered to be a memorial to the dead. A place to mourn or celebrate generations of those who have past on. Developing the theme of decay and of mourning, Our Autumn Fly walks across the stones.
Hoverfly larvae feed on decaying plant matter. The fully grown hoverfly feeds on aphids and other garden pests.
At Dover Castle, a beacon above the town of Dover, gateway to England, and a place that represents 2000 years of military history. Built but the romans, reinforced by Anglo Saxon kings, recognised by William I, redesigned by Henry III, tunnels dug during Napoleonic times and came to prominence during the Dunkirk evacuations. A military barrack, a prison and a detention centre, now reborn as a tourist attraction.