Friday, 19 June 2015

How nature turns an army into a kaleidoscope

Coincidentally, the BBC News Magazine posted an article this week entitled, 'Do butterflies hold the answers to life's mysteries?'. I say coincidentally, because I have been producing my own (made-up) butterfly collection, based on natural colour palettes taken from the fauna, flora and geography around us. So my ears pricked up when I read this title, and indeed this fascinating article about the use of the butterfly in the arts, from poems and stories to music and paintings. The butterfly and the transformation and transition from egg to caterpillar to a gracefully flying creature, symbolises and represents such powerful things to so many people.

Read the BBC News Magazine article here >

The article delves in to how different butterflies took on different meanings through their specific patterns and colours (the poor Red Admiral's red and black labeling it 'the butterfly from hell'). As I've been working on my butterfly collection, entirely made up, but with an essence of the form and markings of real butterflies, I have been churning and spinning ideas of names for them. Butterflies carry such beautiful and interesting names, with equally wonderfully sounding Latin terminology. So what should I be calling my butterflies?

Firstly, the pure essence of a butterfly seems to come through its design and colours, making a statement that clearly says 'this is me'. It can't be missed as a vibrant zesty orange wraps itself around a peacock blue sphere, creating an eye staring through the rings of aqua green and buttercream yellow. Oh what I'd give for a dress like that... That's it, of course. Butterfly Haute Couture.

So now I have my collective theme, but all creatures have a collective term for their groups, so what is a group of butterflies known as? This is where it gets interesting, as there appears to be a few terms, of which my lesser liked are:

A swarm of butterflies or a rabble of butterflies.

Surely butterflies are too poetic, too fragile and delicate, too beautiful to be termed in such a way? My creative mind will not compute that. However, what a marvel it was to read that a group of butterflies is also known as:

A kaleidoscope of butterflies, or
A flutter of butterflies, or even
A rainbow of butterflies.

Now that is pure music terminology and partnership of words. So apt, so reflective... a kaleidoscope of butterflies.


ps, as an interesting little side note, a group of caterpillars is known as an army. Too foreboding in my head, but I do like the visual imagery of an army turning in to a kaleidoscope (of colours and patterns). 

So as my Kaleidoscope of Haute Couture Butterflies go out in to the world, they cannot be nameless. Most butterflies have gained their names through their visual features:
The bright 'Orange Tip'
The grandly decorated 'Purple emperor'
The literally described 'Black-Veined White'
and so on. And then they have their Latin names, their scientific labels.

Now, I cannot even begin too pretend to be a Latin expert, I learnt about troops passing cows in my early secondary school days, but that is the (very dusty) extent of my Latin. So please forgive me Latin Experts out there, I have creatively muddled some terms to meet the actions of my butterflies (call it artistic licence).

Introducing my Haute Couture Kaleidoscope of Butterflies:

Earth Flower
Terra Flos
Petal Bird
Plasmodesmata Avis 
Rainbow Quiver
Iris Pharetram

Flying Beauty
Volans Pulchritudo

Beautiful Air
Pulchra Aeris
Colour Flutter
Coloro Trepidare

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