LINSEED #2 The Olive

LINSEED is a journal of cultural entanglement

In part, a tapestry: stitching through geographic boundaries and historical divides. A patchwork: gathering texture from near and far.

Come winter, a tangled thicket, twitching with quiet curiosity. In summer a dancing stream, cool currents in its depths.

Its maker knows not the length of thread required, nor the appearance of its final pattern. Still, they stitch: preserving remnants of lives lived; darning holes in our collective memory.

It chases the contemporary moment, mapping a constellation of ideas.  And it hunts for our heritage, yielding a wellspring of unspoken wisdom.

An almanac of seasonal graft, and a larder of local lore.

Linseed, flax, Linum usitatissimum

A flowering plant, whose blue blooms last only one day

Cultivated as food and fodder on all arable continents, thriving on poor soil

The natural source of linen —a symbol of light and life, some of the oldest worn cloth in the world. A textile used for bags, towels, sail cloth and painter canvases; the thread of book-binders and ropemakers

The stuff of linseed oil — used by oil painters and carpenters, as varnish for cricket bats and on floors as linoleum

In Latin, linseed translates as ‘most useful’, for its unrivalled versatility amongst crops

And the ancient Egyptians named it "woven moonlight", due to its singular beauty

Volume Two: THE OLIVE

A celebration of cultural crossover and local identity, through the lens of The Olive.

Across five chapters, we wend through market stalls in Izmir, punt amongst the reeds of Iraq’s southern marshlands, climb the precipitous hillsides of the West Bank, and emerge into the light of Italy’s Victorian-era riviera. 

Elsewhere, we venture for inspiration and nourishment: striking out with a foraging-map into the hinterlands of Marseille, or tracing New York City’s original olive oil gelato, with its well-travelled inventor. 

In vivid pastels, artist Dessy Baeva conjures the botanical wisdom of Kapka Kassabova, both steeped in the folklore of their native Bulgaria. Photographer Emma Hardy offers a bittersweet lament to the diseased olive trees of Puglia, Maggie Wang knits fragments of poetry, and Sardinian-based cook Letitia Clark pens a love note to harvests past and present. 

Soon we circle home to Edinburgh – finding comfort in the pebble-spirals of Jim Ede – before settling on the harbour side of Newlyn, on a salty-aired summer’s eve.