Papaver Somniferum

On 1st January 1956 it was made illegal to be in possession of heroin in the UK.

This fact has taken me back to research I have been doing about the Poppy and it’s associations with war and conflict. From the Opium wars in the 1800’s, it’s use to treat soldiers in the First World War, Heroin addiction in soldiers during the Vietnam war, it’s links to the war in Afghanistan, to a symbol of Remembrance, the Poppy and conflict seem to go hand in hand.

“the red corn poppy and the pinkish white opium poppy have had interwoven histories for centuries. They are the poppies of war. Both grow on sunlit, broken ground, and for millennia have inhabited the places where humans till the soil and bury their dead.” Saunders, Nicholas J, The Poppy, A History of Conflict, Loss, Remembrance and Redemption,  Oneworld Publications, 2013, page 3

Heroin derives from opium. The milky sap of opium from the poppy seed head is refined to make morphine, then further refined to produce heroin. Heroin was first produced in 1898 by the Bayer pharmaceutical company and marketed as a treatment for tuberculosis as well as a remedy for morphine addiction.

The work for Paper Trail is a cyanotype print showing an image of a Papaver Somniferum (Opium Poppy) that had self seeded in my garden. The paper, made by Whatman in 1956 is stained with dye made from the poppy seed head once the flower had died away. The delicate, papery beauty of the flower in conflict with the powerful narcotic it produces.

29 / 1956 / Papaver Somniferum / Dawn Cole / Cyanotype and natural dye