Turning Over A New Leaf

Turning Over A New Leaf, Pigment pen on paper, 16 x 16 cm

This is my latest pigment pen drawing, Turning Over A New Leaf. My research into the phrase, “turning over a new leaf,” highlighted the assumption that often accompanies the intention to turn over a new leaf. Here’s a definition from Collins:

If you say that you are going to turn over a new leaf, you mean that you are going to start to behave in a better or more acceptable way.


Better or more acceptable? This is a relatively new expectation placed on the phrase. In the sixteenth century in England, pages of a book were referred to as leaves. Turning over a new leaf meant turning to a blank page. It was a metaphor for starting afresh and not necessarily better.

I like the sixteenth century version because it acknowledges there is ‘good’ and ‘bad’ in every situation. We can choose which to focus on, or maybe we will see the whole picture, as much as that’s possible.

What does ‘turning over a new leaf’ mean to you?

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