Original created with:
Pyrography, pastel, metal leaf and natural pigments: coffee, turmeric, cochineal, indigo and bone char. ~ 12×19” framed
The exact identity of silphium is unclear, commonly believed to be a now-extinct plant. It was used in classical antiquity as a rich seasoning and as a medicine, said to be effective in treating a cough, sore throat, fever, indigestion, aches and pains, warts, and all kinds of maladies. Contemporary writings have also referenced silphium as a tie to sexuality and love. It appears in a poem (Catullus 7) of Catullus to his lover Lesbia, used as a treatment for mental illness, tying it to the ‘madness’ of love.
There has been some speculation about the connection between silphium and the traditional heart shape (?). Coins from the ancient North African city of Cyrene (6–5th century BCE) bear a similar design, sometimes accompanied by a silphium plant, thought to represent its seed or seed pod. Silphium was so critical to the Cyrenian economy that most of their coins bore a picture of the plant or a heart shape.