Sunday, 16 July 2017

The Dutch Masters

Last month I ran a new workshop broadly inspired by the Dutch Masters who painted pictures of flowers in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Their art has influenced a lot of great floristry over the last few years and produced some wonderful, abundant arrangements. Here are a couple of examples of Dutch paintings. The first is by Jan van Huysum and the second by Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder (thanks to the Getty Open Content Programme for use of the digital images):
Real blooms, especially tulips, were so expensive at the time that wealthy people commissioned pictures of their favourite flowers. But the paintings were not of actual arrangements - often the stems were unrealistically long and flowers were painted which were not in season at the same time. There was also a still life feel about the pictures with cut flowers and insects placed around the arrangements, or artefacts like skulls or books. The paintings showed off the skill of the artists, especially their use of colour, light and shade. In fact, it is the use of moody shade that pervades many of the images of floristry influenced by the Dutch Masters. It is so much part of the current trend that I was taught how to take these dark photographs at a course I went to last year (at the Green and Gorgeous Flower Farm) to improve my skills of photographing flowers.
Whist I really admire some of this dark, romantic work, I prefer a light-filled environment. Here is the example arrangement I created for my workshop participants.
The shape of this arrangement is based on an asymmetrical lazy-S rather than a pyramid or a dome. The workshop took place in June when there were some vibrant late spring flowers for us to use. Sweet william, brodiaea, cornflowers, pinks and alstroemeria from Clowance in Cornwall.
Gorgeous white avalanche roses and pink and white stocks from the Sheffield flower market.
And lovely pink astrantia from our garden. I love this starry, light flower.
I had sourced these attractive beaten metal bowls for our arrangements which would be made in chickenwire (the gardening gloves are to protect people's hands from the spiky wire).
The arrangements that participants produced were simply wonderful. Gorgeous, sumptuous and exciting to the eye. Here are a few examples.
It was hard to capture the magnificence of the arrangements in our work area as there were just too many flowers to get into our peripheral vision! After the workshop a couple of participants sent me pictures of their arrangements in situ. Just fantastic.
I really enjoyed this workshop and was stunned by the results. I am planning to run it again this Autumn - there should be some great seasonal flowers to use. I am hoping for dahlias.