Especially in the art world (but applicable universally), savouring, storing, sustaining and protecting your creative stimuli and inputs is just as paramount as letting them flow. Our fourth 2023 theme, ROOTS OF TASTE, seeks to find visual representations of our deepest, inherent drives to create that both anchor and activate us. The theme's animation was custom-made by Hélène L. Vaneukem.

You would be hard-pressed to find a person with a complete lack of feelings towards “nature”. Even the most staunch urbanites have a type of environment, landscape or natural phenomenon to make them stop in their tracks or gasp a tad. In my opinion, it would be difficult to find someone without at least a drop of affinity, either conscious or unconscious, towards what we detachedly and anthropocentrically call “the natural world”. You don’t have to describe yourself as “outdoorsy” to be able to appreciate the beauty of morning dew or desert dunes. 

Even despite our best efforts at drawing an artificial line, we ARE part of the natural world. We might be the equivalent of pampered houseplants but a lot of us are inherently drawn to our undomesticated origins to an extent. And just like the golden rule regarding good houseplant care, you have to fertilise them during the vegetative period from spring to early autumn so that they can have enough accumulated sustenance in their root systems to cushily survive winter. And then let new tender shoots and sprouts grow strong when the right season comes along.

Truth be told, this day and age doesn’t really allow the majority of us the luxury of taking a hiatus, to withdraw, burrow, contemplate and introspect. As the nights grow longer, we feel the natural need to slow down but the surrounding value systems and structures are not amicably geared towards this ebb and flow; on the contrary, they are indifferent and even hostile to such needs, categorising them as weaknesses.

For us, roots symbolise not only the physical anchors seeking sustenance but also the deep-seated ideas and concepts that underlie artistic expression. Embracing the beauty in the unseen and what is considered “ugliness”. It’s hard to overlook the rhizomatic support structures that have been in the spotlight in art circles and communities, especially in the past decade, and the “politics of care” that build and nourish them. What we want to do is to plunge our hands into these types of “soils and substrates” and fish for the most interesting fragments to proudly display on our windowsills and relentlessly show you, our readers, whenever you visit.


Let’s burrow


Team SWARM Mag


Kov – román o metalu, Veselý, Karel

Witchcraft. The Library of Esoterica

Plant Magick. The Library of Esoterica

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

Evil Roots: Killer Tales of the Botanical Gothic by Daisy Butcher

Tajná kniha Šerosvitu, kolektiv

The Green Witch by Murphy-Hiscock, Arin

Pagans – The Visual Culture of Pagan Myths, Legends and Rituals by Ethan Doyle White

Yoshihiro Narisawa. Satoyama Cuisine

Julia Watson. Lo—TEK. Design by Radical Indigenism

Bjarne Mastenbroek. Dig it! Building Bound to the Ground

The Book of Symbols. Reflections on Archetypal Images

Basilius Besler. Florilegium. The Book of Plants

Gilles Deleuze & Félix Guattari – A Thousand Plateaus

Bjork – Fossora

Paco Calvo – Planta Sapiens

Timothy Morton – Dark Ecology

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ABOUT THE ANIMATION AUTHOR / Hélène L. Vaneukem, now living and working in Paris, France, grew up near a forest, a place of solace and inspiration for her. Today, her artwork is deeply rooted in folk horror and fantasy, expressed in abstract and vibrant hues. She’s drawn to the allegorical nature of these genres, believing they resonate with the universal fears and fascinations imprinted on individuals from an early age. Vaneukem’s creative process is intuitive, focused on the mood and ambiance rather than a predetermined outcome. Each piece tells a story, aiming to create an immersive dreamscape that captivates viewers, urging them to pause and interpret the narrative. This blending of mediums extends beyond illustration; she often complements her animated illustrations with soundtracks, enjoying the fusion of filmmaking, art, and music production.


Text / Františka Blažková

Animation / Hélène L. Vaneukem @helene.vaneukem

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