The Narcissistic Daffodil

In March whilst still in lockdown, I took a back door pilgrimage. The walk I had planned started from my doorstep and its purpose was to link two sites of religious significance. St Anne Chapel and St Brannocks Church. My mini pilgrimage started at St Annes Chapel in Saunton. My intention for this mini pilgrimage was ’embodiment’ which translates to a ‘tangible or visible form of an idea, quality, or feeling’.

The start of the walk was on an official bridleway that took me up a path alongside the gardens of a manor house with perfect gardens and lake, complete with the noise of a chain saw whirring away. I soon started to head uphill on a path which whose verge was full of different Yellow flowers, a sure sign of Spring.

As I got to the top of the hill the land opened out onto a track called Long Lane. As `I journeyed along the lane, I tried to focus on my intention of embodiment, trying to connect to the landscape, but the more of my journey that passed, the more the colour Yellow became prominent. Not only were the flowers up the woodland track all yellow, but as I walked along Long Lane it felt a little surreal, daffodils sprouted up along the track, this led to my questioning as to how did they get there?. Usually you see daffodils on grass verges along busy roads, near human habitats, not like these, clustered along an old track. Were they planted by drovers many years ago? Or were they planted by the MOD to soften the presence of the radar stations!

As I moved along towards the end of the lane and down towards St Brannocks Church, I again became aware of the colour Yellow, but now the yellow became connected to danger signs and the fear of death.

This juxtaposition of the yellow daffodils signalling Spring sat against the yellow electrical signs signalling the fear of death. Through one of my tutorials I heard of the work of film maker Patrick Keiller, which made me start to look at landscape differently. I started to look at how daffodils might be seen differently, to how we currently observe them as a spring flower. Research led to me find that some white daffodils smell like cat urine and could be poisonous thus making you vomit. The more I thought about this idea, I started to wonder whether the Daffodil (Narcissi) links to the word Narcissistic? Are the two connected?.

According to the Oxford Language Dictionary a narcissist is ‘a person who has an excessive interest in or admiration of themselves. narcissists think the world revolves around them” So is this early flower that shows off its blooms in early spring a symbol of Narcissism?

There are more parallels to be drawn with narcissism in this mini pilgrimage. The pilgrimage ended at St Brannocks Church, where there is a Holy Well. As I sat by the pool, I could see the trees reflecting in the water. In Greek mythology, Narcissus was a hunter from Thespiae in Boeotia who was known for his beauty. The story goes that he rejected all romantic advances, eventually falling in love with his own reflection in a pool of water after sitting by a pond for day after day. This thought of narcissism gives the well a whole new meaning.

Dangerous Holy Well

Even the Holy Well at St Brannocks has become a danger, maybe it could now be repurposed as a place for narcissists.

Reflections in the Well

As part of my MA Fine Art (Print) I would like to explore this idea of the Narcissistic Daffodil through a medium that I have not used before, that of Risograph printing. The reason for this choice is due to the juxtaposition of riso printing being known for its bright colour against the word Narcissistic which is quite dark.


London (1994) British Film Institute

Robinson in Space (1997) British Film Institute

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