MY INSPIRATION : FLOWERS (& GARDENS)
I was reminded how much I love a beautiful garden while we were hunting for our wedding venue in 2018. We didn’t really know what we were looking for in a wedding venue so we just started looking. After months of searching it became clear that it was very important to both of us that the venue had a beautiful garden; as we kept coming away from venues saying - '“the garden was a bit disappointing wasn’t it?”. Having established this fact venue hunting became much more enjoyable as we got to effectively do a tour of beautiful gardens! We briefly entertained the idea of getting married outside, but given we live in the UK we decided it wasn’t worth adding another thing to stress about to list of wedding stresses! We knew we had found ‘the one’ when neither of us wanted to leave the peace and comfort of the sofa nestled in the beautiful rose garden at Coworth Park and return the hurly burly of everyday life. When we looked at the clock in the car before we began our drive we were surprised at how late it was and realised that we had spent over two hours enjoying the tranquility of the rose garden chatting and relaxing.
Our friends and family seemed to be in agreement with us, as on our wedding day there was always a group of them enjoying it.
When I was younger I found a simple pleasure sitting in a beautiful place surrounded by colour, natural perfume and bees busily hurrying about their daily chores. This is especially true in the early morning and late evening when the flowers are at their most fragrant and the world is more quiet and peaceful. The silence of these times of day heightens my senses and allows what nature has to give to take centre stage.
On the drive home from Coworth Park I realised how weird it was to have almost completely forgotten something that once had been so important to me. It was another thing in what was a growing list of things that made me realise how far away from me I’d got over the past five years.
If you’ve read my about page you will know that I had quite an unusual childhood and that I essentially grew up living in a stately home with truly beautiful grounds to walk through when my studies allowed (sadly not as often as I would have liked!); and that it is from here that my love of gardens and flowers originates.
School was not an easy time for me and having the luxury of being able to disappear from everyone and everything in the vast grounds was really wonderful and a privilege that I’m grateful for to this day. The wide open spaces and great old trees were so good for restoring a sense of perspective and inner peace. While the colours, shapes and scents of the flowers provided beauty, joy and inspiration. I think my only regret is that I didn’t spend more time enjoying in them early in the morning when they were at their most peaceful and beautiful. But I’ve never been one for early mornings…
I was also very fortunate with my art teachers at school; Mrs Phillips and Ms Stockton - they essentially gave me an art school education all the way through senior school. Who I am today has been more influenced by their teaching than perhaps any others but it is only recently I’ve come to realise it. They demanded excellence and helped us attain it by encouraging any spark of interest and urging us to explore whatever direction seemed most appealing with guidance and without judgement.
To this end I spent hours in the gardens drawing and painting the flowers there as well as exploring the work of artist’s who had painted flowers. The painting below is by the amazing artist Rosie Sanders whose work I love for being so exacting but also how it captures the essence and life of the subject. As I got older I came to appreciate the works of more impressionist and abstract artist such as Barbara Hepworth, Claude Monet and Georgia O’Keeffe.
My years of flower sketching produced sketchbooks full of ideas for jewellery and culminated in my A level art final piece. A 50cm tall white sculpture of an Amaryllis flower and a 2m tall by 1m wide glass panel that I painted with all the colours of the petals and leaves. When complete the panel was position in front of the large art studio windows so that it applied colour to the sculpture when the sun shone through. This meant that the colours and patterns changed with light levels and time of day. (Sadly I don’t have any photos of it as it was before the era of smartphones!….Which really shows my age…! But have very fond memories of it because it worked better than I had imagined it could.)
Why an Amaryllis? - the exam question was to ‘create a work inspired by your surroundings’. My school crest features an Amaryllis and they were always in pots around the state rooms during the winter before being planted out into the gardens for a second bloom once the frosts had gone. The idea for the reflected colour occurred to me during a choir rehearsal when I saw how the sunlight was vividly projecting the colour of the stain glass window onto the floor. The whole piece was a reflection of my time at the school and who it had made me inspired by the beautiful surroundings.
When I was younger I was all about ‘realism' and I drove my art teachers more than a little bit mad with my need to photographically reproduce whatever I was drawing. I saw merit and skill in being able to copy what was already there rather than focusing on the essence of something and reinterpreting it myself. In one sense I was too technical to be truly arty and too arty to be truly technical.
My world shifted a bit when I discovered the work of Barbara Hepworth and Claude Monet as well as the music of Debussy. The idea of creating an illusion of something with colour and sound was really intriguing to me. It was from all of these influences that the idea for my A level final piece grew and my jewellery continues where it left off.