Vanessa cardui (Painted Lady Butterfly)
I didn’t think I’d be painting butterflies. I thought it was such a clichéd, kitschy topic, so colorful, girlish, tender. None of these things. The variety of colors and shapes of butterfly wings is shocking, it is an endless treasure trove of inspiration. It was through this beauty that we pinned them to our walls and looked at these dead bodies without spirit. My butterflies are dead from the beginning. They lack soul, flat and still, only the colors of their wings vibrate. These lifeless, scaled jewels allow us to reflect on the beauty of the world, its diversity, and remind us of our determination to acquire beauty at any cost, at the cost of our lives. These are not hyper-realistic images, they are only supposed to be a simulation of the beauty of nature, a bit flattened, curled and remixed, torn, decomposed. The torn out wings hang in the void of paper, but no one has died, no one has suffered the fatal blow of a pin to feed our soul. Long live the butterflies!
Vanessa cardui is one of the most widespread of all butterflies, found on every continent except Antarctica and South America. In Australia, V. cardui has a limited range around Bunbury, Fremantle, and Rottnest Island. However, its close relative, the Australian painted lady (V. kershawi, sometimes considered a subspecies) ranges over half the continent. Other closely related species are the American painted lady (V. virginiensis) and the West Coast lady (V. annabella).
Research suggests that British painted ladies do undertake an autumn migration, making 14,500 km (9,000 mi) round trip from tropical Africa to the Arctic Circle in a series of steps by up to six successive generations. The Radar Entomology Unit at Rothamsted Research provided evidence that autumn migrations take place at high altitude, which explains why these migrations are seldom witnessed. In recent years, thanks to the activity of The Worldwide Painted Lady Migration citizen science project, led by the Barcelona-based Institute of Evolutionary Biology (Catalan: Institut de Biologia Evolutiva), the huge range of migration has begun to be revealed. For example, some butterflies migrated from Iceland to the Sahara desert, and even further south.
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