In Bram Stoker’s Gothic horror classic Dracula, the vampire’s greatest power is the ability to take the form of any natural phenomenon; as shapeshifter, Stoker writes, Count Dracula can “direct the elements; the storm, the fog, the thunder; he can command all the meaner things: the rat, and the owl, and the bat.” But whether the vampire can disguise himself in botanical form isn't clear. At the end of the novel, when the Count is vanquished, his human body instantly turns to dust–but what if, within that dust, were hidden a few tiny seeds?
With its blood-red folds of velvety Celosia, fringed tufts of crimson Dianthus, and jewel-like intricacy of Centaurea and Scabiosa, our Goth Garden Flower Mix
is a gothic revival in seed form. Indeed, it seems the undead Count is hiding in plain sight, his black satin cape and garnet brooch transformed into flowers. So, who better to help us tell this seed story than pop surrealist painter Megan Buccere? Buccere primarily works with oils and pastels to create images of a distinctly gothic vibe. Frequent motifs include bats, moths, snakes, plants, origami cranes, lovers’ eyes, and tangled string–all with an occult twist.
For Goth Garden, Megan created a circular painting of a garden at nighttime; dark plum, black, and burgundy blooms subtly glow under starlight and an adorable fruit bat hangs from a mossy branch. A tiny white skull oversees the nocturnal scene and bat silhouettes play along the edges.
In Megan's paintings, true-to-life renderings of natural elements sometimes have a floating quality, as if suspended in mid-air by magic, but her appreciation for nature is grounded in hands-on experience. “As a child I loved to explore outdoors, collect rocks, identify plants and birds, and learn about insects,” Megan says. “This love for nature has definitely crept into my work in many different ways over the years.”
Originally from Tennessee, Megan has lived in Louisiana for the last 25 years. For the past two decades she’s been teaching art to high school students. “I've been creating art since I can remember. It's a creative outlet that I have always needed in my life,” she says. By helping her students to develop a relationship to art, Megan is passing on her grandmother’s gift to her: “My grandmother put me in private art lessons from kindergarten through middle school,” she explains, “and those lessons gave me the tools to use this creative outlet to its fullest extent.”
On her blog, Megan describes her art process as a way to disentangle anxiety, fear, and worry. Describing some of the recurring motifs in her work, Megan writes, “The soft pastels and small bits of dust-like metallic leaf drifting through some of the works represents the lifting of the anxiety and my emergence from its disorienting fog.” Flora and fauna feature prominently in Megan’s art, often surrounding female figures painted in silvery tones.
In these works, animals, insects, and plants resonate with powerful symbolism and sometimes they take center stage. For Goth Garden Flower Mix, she says, “My favorite aspect of this piece is how the flowers seem to be cradling the bat, nourishing his spirit.”
We love how dark flowers evoke shadowy realms where all the senses are heightened. "In a gothic garden," Megan says, “you would expect to see lush dark flowers and plants that convey a sense of mystery and sensuality.” Dark flowers invite closer inspection, putting color on equal footing with texture and silhouette. “Wandering through a gothic garden past dusk," she imagines "an experience where you are interacting with the night sky and all of the nocturnal fauna, such as bats, that are also part of that experience.”
For all its gothic undertones, there’s something distinctly comforting and cozy about Megan’s interpretation of this seed story. The symmetry and circularity of the composition evoke a feeling of safety and orderliness, a world in which death is integral, even essential to life—just as it is in any garden. How content our little bat seems to be, swaddled in this floral nighttime scene!
So, get in touch with the shadows–if you dare. Invite this elegant vampire over the threshold. But, to be on the safe side, grow some garlic chives