KERMES OAKS

DAY 7 Friday 7 September 2018


 Coffee in the garden

Coffee in the garden

Coffee in the garden and a social visit to Betty the dog who lives next door, is a good way to start the day.

 ‘The Kindness of Strangers’: the gift of 5L of extra-virgin organic olive oil. (Mono-print on paper).

‘The Kindness of Strangers’: the gift of 5L of extra-virgin organic olive oil. (Mono-print on paper).

After a spell in the studio I go for a walk in search of the Fuente de Berra. It says it’s 2.4Km from the Chelva River and after a steep climb with lovely views back to Chelva, I reach an expansive elevated plain of olive groves with a few almond and Carob trees.

  Views across the valley to Chelva and a friend I met on the way... 

 Views across the valley to Chelva and a friend I met on the way... 

The sound of flowing water is ever present, but when I reach the plateau, apart from the breeze it’s silent. I’ve left the sound of water in the irrigation ditches behind. I didn’t find the spring, even though I walked much further than 2.4 Km, but the Ermita San Cristobal perched on a hill looks a nice walk.

I notice low evergreen bushes with small dark holly-like leaves, by the path. I look more carefully and realise they have large acorns in prickly cups. What’s this?

 Kermes Oak (Quercus coccifera) is a favourite food of the cochineal beetle which was/is a source of Crimson dye or Kermes Carmine. 

Kermes Oak (Quercus coccifera) is a favourite food of the cochineal beetle which was/is a source of Crimson dye or Kermes Carmine. 

I return home as dusk falls and discover, courtesy of Wikipedia, that they are indeed a species of oak; Kermes Oak (Q. coccifera). A favourite food of a species of female scale-insect that was/is used to make Crimson dye or cochineal. Prickly Pear cactus is also a favourite food of a different species of South American cochineal beetle. It takes 80-100,000 insects to make one kilogram of dye!

So it looks like there’s a new colour to add to my site-specific palette. Crimson.

One problem. I don’t have Crimson paint  - this is Madder Red mixed with Burnt Sienna and Mars Yellow matched off the Internet!

   Crimson Lady . Mono-print on paper. (42x59cms)   

 Crimson Lady. Mono-print on paper. (42x59cms)