This summer has been punctuated by extreme climatic events. The climate emergency deepens, and impacts all our lives. It becomes more personal and immediate. Art and life is precarious in this era of consequences. Art and the process of creating art can be very helpful for anyone who has experienced trauma, and hopefully I can share some of this creativity in ways that can help people.
The art which I have created over Summer is a continuation of my exploration into floral and plant symbolism, floristry traditions and our relationship with the natural world. For me this process offers a way to delve into the stuff of life and to convey thoughts, memories, and emotions that might otherwise be difficult to articulate. The flowers express both sorrow and happiness, loss and tenderness.
When I consider our connection with the natural world, I am mindful that the flowers exist as a way for the plants to reproduce and continue living. Any art created with plant materials must be carefully done, and ideally will contribute to growth, restoration and regeneration. I plant more, take less, and work with locally grown, chemical free flowers and plants as much as I can.
One of the bright points of inspiration over the past three months have been visits to local permaculture gardens and meeting with their gardeners. Permaculture design is based on care of the earth and people, and it involves close observation and understanding of natural ecosystems. I find gardeners are very generous with both their plants and knowledge, and I have been gradually learning more about this type of ecological design. I am working on a series of small artworks about permaculture, growing food in home gardens and local community supported agriculture. As the cost of food increases and supply chains are disrupted by the climate crisis, this area becomes more pertinent and important.
Over summer I had the opportunity to explore an old floristry tradition, potpourri. When done the traditional way it is a slow process which requires drying flowers and herbs, adding spices and balancing the scents to create a harmonious collection of petals and fragrance. The result is a little time capsule of beautiful summer memories. A book written by American perfumer Mandy Aftel, “Fragrant,” has helped me understand the history of natural scent and how natural essences have been used over time to create perfumes. It will be interesting to make some more artworks with potpourri and natural fragrance as the starting point.
I am very grateful to those who have brought my artworks into their homes. I have some signed art prints including this one (detail above) entitled “Love and Grace”, available in store at McAtamney Gallery in Geraldine, South Island. This artwork was created with beautiful Dahlias, Zinnias and Amaranth from my local flower grower, and Sweet William from an independent garden centre.
I am also continuing to offer artworks online via my Patreon page, where I post writing, photos, and create an artwork for my Patrons to download at the end of each month. Patreon is a subscription service for creators offering different levels of support, and thankfully it is advertising free. It is a great way to directly support artists and other creators.
I’m looking forward to sharing some more of the Summer artwork as I complete it over the coming weeks.