Fern Flower

Street Art Break in VR

Tom Nickel
3 min readSep 22, 2022


Fern Flower, 2019, Natalia Rak

We are confronted here with a large image.

It is difficult to take it in without judgment or without trying to find meaning or project our own story. Also I don’t care for big eyeballs as a visual motif.

But it is a break from ourselves if we choose to take it, choose to keep our attention lightly on the image and its surroundings.

It’s a Street Art Break, where I gradually add layers to what is visually apparent.

The artist is Natalia Rak, known as Rak.

She studied Fine Arts at the University of Lodz. She worked at first on canvas and switched to street art because she liked painting Big.

She has painted in festivals all over the world, like Artscape SAGA in the Gothenburg area of Sweden, where this work still exists.

Over a three-week period in August, 2019, the Artscape organization oversaw the creation of 34 murals, mostly inspired by myths and folktales from around the world.

This colorful and fantastic image is based on a well-known family of Polish folk tales about the Fern Flower.

Fern, wikimedia

We already have a problem. Ferns don’t bloom. They are an ancient plant species and they reproduce with spores.

There is no Fern Flower.

Except. Twice a year, the night of the Solstice, Summer and Winter.

And not just anywhere. The Fern Flower only blooms deep in the forest, in places linked to spirits and the supernatural.

Sometimes the protagonist finds the Fern Flower and sometimes the Fern Flower finds the protagonist, who seemingly comes on it by accident.

There is no mistaking the Fern Flower when it is discovered. It pulsates with life and shimmers with brightness. It communicates without words.

Usually, someone who finds a Fern Flower is gently made to understand that this is their secret and it must never be shared or the power will disappear. Overcome by their good fortune, people slide right over the bargain they have made.

In one Fern Flower tale, a boy named Jack had been searching, on the Solstice, for three years — and he finally found it!

The Fern Flower has to be handled just-so and Jack was prepared. He didn’t pull the plant up and out of the ground. He let it drop into the piece of white linen that must be used and he did not look back once on his way out of the forest.

The magic worked. Soon he had all the things he had wanted. Since he could not share the truth, he moved away from everyone he knew and went into isolation. He was tormented by regret and loneliness.

Jack’s last wish was to be swallowed by the ground.

I did not see any of that story in the image itself .

I did see something disturbing, at least it was disturbing to me. When I showed the picture to others and asked about it, I learned that some people were not disturbed at all.

Art as folk tales. Art as painting on a wall.

I also presented it in VR, to 20 people from 20 different places, who joined the virtual art excursion to Kungsgatan 10, 441 30 Alingsås, Sverige.

Art as a shared VR experience.

Image by David Denton

I write about VR and Meditation and other topics I have no standing to write about on Medium and Substack.

I have a black belt in learning and I’ve been meditating for so long you’d think I’d be enlightened but I’m not.



Tom Nickel

Learning Technologist focusing on VR, Video, and Mortality … producer of Less Than One Minute and 360 degree videos