A very wet summer, as it has been here in Amsterdam, makes for some pretty verdant canalside weeds.

summer weeds, amsterdam

summer weeds, amsterdam

summer weeds, amsterdam

summer weeds, amsterdam

On encountering these I was reminded of the wild tangle of riverside weeds in John Everett Millais’s ‘Ophelia’ painting (1851 – 52). Sure, there’s something very compelling about the pale corpse of the young, drowned Ophelia but it’s always the minutely observed and magnificently painted tangle of weeds that pulls me in to the painting and holds me mesmerised.
'Ophelia' detail, by John Everett Millais, 1851-52

detail from ‘Ophelia’ by John Everett Millais

Although botanically accurate, strictly speaking these aren’t just ‘summer weeds’ as they were observed and painted over the course of a summer and an autumn. Perhaps this contraction of time passing – they’re all flourishing, flowering, withering and dying at the same time – is part of their appeal.

Other ‘weeds’ I’ve recently been enjoying…

'Castrovalva' detail, by MC Escher, 1930

… the beautifully drawn flora that appears in the bottom left hand corner of MC Escher’s ‘Castrovalva’ lithograph (1930), which held me captivated on a recent visit to the Escher Museum in Den Haag.

'Bower pattern', by William Morris, c.1917

… and the William Morris design (entitled ‘Bower pattern’, c.1917) on the July page of my 2008 wall calendar.