“What is Artemis ?” The question was asked by a lovely woman, just leaving the studio after painting class. It’s a good question, for lots of reasons, but especially because ‘Artemis’ is the name of the little art gallery/studio I established five years ago on Vancouver’s North Shore. That the question was ‘what’ and not ‘who’ made me realize I had a responsibility to do a better job of introducing ‘Artemis’ to my community. Although I knew how complicated it was going to be, I promised myself to eventually forge a comprehensive answer.
I chose the name ‘Artemis’ after several of my dreams dovetailed with my travels, and led me to realize that somehow ‘She’ was calling. I presumed that most people might know her as ‘the other Diana’ – Roman goddess of the hunt and the moon. That’s one of the initial reasons I thought this name & deity would be appropriate. Deep Cove, where I live, is situated on the most southern fiord of North America, with huge mountains that plunge down into a narrow channel of the sea. Facing east, it’s the best place to catch a spectacular moonrise. But other signs of Artemis were all around me – evidence that she (known by one name or another) has been here all along. Mythology tells us that the lush-green wooded mountains are where she wanders; little fish in the coves are guarded by her gaze; the bear and deer, always close by, are two of the animals most sacred to her.
Some people may know about the Ephesian Artemis, who was such a revelation to me when I first visited Turkey. But few will have guessed her many names or all the realms over which she is said to preside. My own epiphany came two years ago on a ‘chance’ journey to the tiny village of Patara in south-western Turkey. I found that the people there, both ancient and modern Lycians, claim the goddess Leto, and her twin-children Apollo & Artemis, as their own. I apparently had stumbled upon the birthplace of Artemis, which made me even more curious to understand the breadth and depth of this goddess and the mythos that surrounds her.
Since then, my personal definition of ‘Artemis’ has expanded almost beyond words. But, as I’m still determined to answer ‘the question’, watch for a series of concise, incremental posts on the new ‘blog’ portion of this website, where I plan to share what I’ve discovered, along with some simple visual offerings – to Her.
Statue of Artemis (detail) taken at the Ephesus Museum, Selchuk, Turkey, 2008.
(Excavated from the ruins of the great temple of Artemis at Ephesus)