M O R E A B O U T F L O R I L E G I U M
Plants - both foliage and flowers - have long been inspirational
elements to humans as we record the world in our artwork. The acanthus
leaf has been used as an architectural ornament for centuries. Florilegiums
- books of voluptuous flower paintings - proliferated in the 1600
and 1700’s. We’ve given flowers symbolic meaning, with certain flowers
standing for love, loyalty, passion, remembrance.
Why this enduring fascination with plants as artistic subject matter?
When flowering plants first occurred 130 million years ago the face
of the earth was forever changed. Now comprising some 235,000 species,
flowering plants provide food for all of the animal world including
humans. Without these plants the world as we know it today would
not be and humans would not have come to exist. Do we know this
innately and so, are properly respectful of plants?
The many colors, forms and fragrances of flowers are their methods
for attracting pollinators, thus insuring their perpetuation. These
devices work on us, too, although we might choose to think our attraction
is more cerebral, more aesthetic. Maybe the fact that we are awed
by the beauty of plants is not coincidental. Our fascination with
them - nurturing them, sharing them, searching the earth for new
forms - has contributed to their perpetuation. We, plants and humans,
are involved in an eons old dialog.
I contribute to this dialog through my dual passions of photography
and gardening. My photography series titled Florilegium has evolved
along with my growth as a gardener. Gardens are an easily accessible
way for any person to re-connect every day with the natural world,
to be comforted by our place in it and to grow respectful of it.
I use flowers, plants and seedpods as subject matter for my photographs
in the hope of sharing my experience of this essential connection.
I observe plants as they grow and bring them to my studio when they’ve
reached a stage that interests me. Many are past their prime but
speak to me precisely for that reason - they possess a subtle beauty
that flowers and foliage in full bloom do not. Often they will sit
in vases of water for days or weeks after their initial recording,
progressing through their natural course of growth and senescence.
I just noted this morning that a cardoon bud that I brought to the
studio last week is beginning to show its purple, thistle-like fluff.
In another day or two it will be in full flower and I will likely
record it again. As I observe the plants changing I am presented
with new opportunities.
Art can provoke or it can soothe the viewer. My hope is that Florilegium
will do both. I wish for these photographs to provide respite for
the viewer, to help to create balance in lives that are often too
hectic and disconnected from the natural world. If these images
can help the viewer appreciate the beauty, complexity and mystery
of the plant world, so much the better. Perhaps that person then
will be impelled to understand and treasure the natural world.