I was recently asked to make a SO SOPHIE art doll to be given as a gift. “So give me some hints, what does your friend like?” I asked. Summer, flowers, the colour green and dogs! Hmmm! Helia is what came out of my creative process; OK, granted, I did’t include the doggy love, but I think everything else got covered!
The first idea that came to my mind was sunflowers! For the simple reason that they have the word sun in their name! Sun, summer. And I love sunflowers because they are so bold and big and make such a “I am here” statement. And I’d never made sunflowers before. And when I started researching images and symbolism, which I always love to do, I was pleasantly surprised.
Helia, from helios or the sun, therefore, is inspired by the beautiful sunflower. Sunflowers are known as happy flowers and are the perfect gift to bring joy to someone’s day! Sunflowers commonly bloom during the summer and have the tendency to reposition themselves to face the sun. Their yellow colour symbolises vitality, intelligence, happiness, long life, fortune, adoration and loyalty, as well as, friendship.
During my research I found an ancient Greek myth, tragic of course, about the titan Helios and the nymph Clytia, which gives light as to why sunflowers always turn towards the sun. Helios, having loved Clytia, abandoned her for Leucothea. Clytia was so angered by his treatment that she told Leucothea’s father, Orchamus, about their affair. Since Helios had defiled Leucothea, Orchamus put her to death by burial alive in the sand. Oh dear! Clytia had intended to win Helios back by taking away his new love, but her actions only hardened his heart against her.
She stripped herself and sat naked, with neither food nor drink, for nine days on the rocks, staring at the sun, Helios, mourning his departure. After nine days she transformed into the turnsole, also known as heliotrope or sunflower. But even in flower form she still loved Helios and would spend her days watching him as he moved across the sky in his chariot. And that is why sunflowers move to face the sun!
There are so many quotes and poems about sunflowers, but I’d like to leave you with my favourite! 🌻
Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadows. It’s what the sunflowers do.
– Helen Keller