Thursday, 11 August 2016

Floral Designer Captivates Coffs Coast

Coffs Harbour saw the very best of Australian floral art on Sunday 7 August at the Botanic Garden when National Champion, Judith Little from Maclean (left of photo), demonstrated nine designs to 40 interested attendees at an inaugural floral art meeting. 

Cecily Rogers from Sydney (right of photo), who is President of the Royal Horticultural Society of NSW, ably assisted Judith and was kept very busy supporting Judith's creative work - it was quite clear that these two women work well as a team. 

See right where Judith is placing the last bloom in a contemporary design. She has used moss to cover her oasis in a shallow dish, and the tall flowers in this design are rose lily and are larger and fuller than traditional lilies. Their flowers appear as though there are two or three lilies stacked together. Their stems can measure over 70cm, which gives them their remarkable and majestic appearance. The rose lily lasts up to 12 or more days and the buds will open progressively over the course of a few days. These lilies were passed around the room so we could see and smell just how wonderful they are.

Showcased on the day was what can be achieved with floral art when given the opportunity to learn from talented exponents of the art. Judith adeptly illustrated how floral art had changed over the decades and these trends were clearly evident through her designs. Cecily went on to critique Judith's designs, pointing out design elements that were awry from accepted competition guidelines - these elements were purposely included by Judith for teaching purposes.

Cecily also pointed out that you do not need unlimited buckets of flowers or money to do floral art. Wonderful creations can be achieved by using what is on hand...... the secret is training your eye to see things in your environment which could be used in a design.  Cecily said that as time goes by this will become second nature. For example, you can find good creative uses for lichen and moss covered debris which has fallen to the ground, gum nuts, dried grasses, interesting pieces of wood or twigs, dried sticks, interesting shaped rocks and seed pods, which are all materials which can be used in floral art.

Both Cecily and Judith mentioned that their own gardens have evolved around their passion for floral art. Their gardens are planted with foliage plants and sculptural flowers enabling them to only purchase a small amount of actual blooms for their designs. A dried palm frond (as seen above) can be employed with great effect using just interesting foliage.  Dried material can be stored and reused many times, this dried palm has been used many times - note the holes drilled along the edge. Interesting vessels can be purchased cheaply at op shops or improvised from our own kitchens by using empty cans covered in paperbark, painted and covered in sheer fabric or ribbon, odd shaped bottles for groupings, use of natural fibres etc etc. 

Five people at the meeting put their hands up to form a committee to work on establishing the group, although sadly one person has had to pull out. All attendees left their contact info so an email will be sent to these people seeking someone else to take on the responsibility of forming the group. If no one takes this on, then unfortunately the group may well not be able to go ahead, which would be a sad thing as there seems to be plenty of interest. 

If the group does get off the ground, it is intended that it will work its way, with Judith's guidance, from the basics through the varied techniques of floral art. Judith proficiently demonstrated the principles of creating a traditional bowl arrangement using satay sticks, this is a classic example of what may be done at the initial workshops. Other possible outcomes for this group could be:

  • To gather in an atmosphere of friendship to nurture and expand talent within the group.
  • Share hints and tricks - for example there was one lady at the meeting who is very experienced with papercraft.  She would no doubt have some wonderful ideas on how paper can be transformed and used in floral design.
  • Have workshops at meetings so there is 'hands on' experience working through the various design stages.
  • Learn how to condition blooms in preparation for use in floral art.
  • What tools are needed and how best to care for them.
  • Where to procure supplies as cheaply as possible?
  • Learn interpretative knowledge on how to read a theme for competitions.

A floral art group would be a wonderful addition to Coffs Coast community life, particularly to those people interested in creative art and design, and gardening. CHGC will certainly continue to try and get a floral art group up and running, although we can only do that if there are enough people willing to put their hand up to help. If you would like to help out, please call Geoff on 6656 2429.

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