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What is it with you and poppies??

In case you hadn´t noticed, I´ve got a thing about poppies. I love painting them! These lovely flowers look so fragile, yet they grow strong and proud in the most unexpected places. But besides the delicate, unmistakeable shape and the surprising variety of colours, the symbolism calls and intrigues me. I didn´t realise that there were so many different kinds of poppy and that each colour has a different meaning.

Blue symbolises faith in a higher, spiritual power. These lovely flowers were adopted by the NHS in honour of our heroic health workers. fighting on the frontline during the pandemic.

Red poppies represent undying love, remembrance, and sacrifice.

I painted In Memory of the Many, seen here, to express the love and respect I feel for those who struggled and fought for our freedom. I want to remember them with respect, gratitude and love.

Purple symbolises tranquillity, imagination, luxury, creating something beautiful. Pink is for compassion, platonic love, and peaceful sleep and Orange is for good health and regeneration.

White poppies are rare and symbolise remembrance of loved ones, faith, and eternal life while Black ones are for elegance, mysterious dreams, and deep sleep,

I was born in Holland and my parents lived, and suffered, through the Second World War, although they never spoke about it. Despite Holland´s determination to remain neutral, it took just three days for the Germans to occupy my defenceless country. My mother was from a small coastal village and, after she married my father, they moved to Rotterdam, where 80,000 people were left homeless when heavy bombing all but destroyed the city centre in 1940.

My father, who was a journalist, was one of many young Dutch men who was forced to go and work in a factory in Germany. The harsh winter of 1944-45 is known as the “hongerwinter”, the hungry winter, when food and fuel shipments were cut off and thousands starved to death. Members of my family used to sneak out at night to take bark from the trees to make soup.

As I sit here today in my cosy home, with a pot full of chicken soup simmering on the hob, I remember the people who struggled and died so that we could live free. I remember them with love, respect, and gratitude. I could never see the end of the war, marked on Armistice Day, as any kind of celebration or victory. I could never glorify war. I try to fill my heart with everything which my poppies represent:

Remembrance. Optimism. Hope for a bright positive future.

A prayer for a peaceful world.

And that´s why I´ve got this thing about painting poppies!

Marja Brown

Landscape Artist

Original paintings, framed and unframed prints, available from my website

20% Discount on all paintings and prints, including commissions, until November 30

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