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Thursday 25 April 2013

The Flowers of our Labours...

Finally Petals at 19 Queen Street is open!
Nikki and I have spent hundreds, maybe even thousands, of hours working together on this project. For over a decade Nikki has dreamed of having a flower shop and I have always wanted somewhere beautiful to hang my artwork. Last week was one of the most exhausting weeks of our lives. On Tuesday, the shop was still empty and I really was not sure how on earth everything would come together with only 48 hours remaining. We were at the shop on Wednesday night until 11pm. We painted the dry bench and I touched up our fabulous metallic wall. On Thursday, with the help of so many wonderful people, it all came together.
Nikki, you are such an amazing person; a true friend and an inspiration. Working on this with you has meant so much to me. I am so happy that I have been able to help you make this dream come true.

This was how the space looked on 14 March. Hard to believe the transformation in a few short weeks.

The flowers arrived just in time. It was a rather nail-biting afternoon though as a suspicious package had been found and the airport was on lock-down. Kirsteen Brown and Sarah Parker will be the floral designers in charge of the shop. Nikki, my mother Joy Blackburne, Katie Masters and I helped them to get all the flowers prepared and displayed.

Sarah put together a lovely arrangement for the window. Her joy is infectious and she is a true pleasure to be around.

With the fridge filled and the vases displayed, Nikki and I rushed home to get ready for the opening. The opening party is a blur, but I do remember the laughter, the hugs and many heartfelt congratulations. So many people worked incredibly hard to make this happen, and we are so grateful.

At the front of the shop is a gallery space that will feature an ever-changing collection of vases and objets d'art as well as some of my artwork. But for the opening, we thought it would be a lovely idea to have a group exhibition. The artists all came by to chose their flowers and created a piece inspired by the blooms they selected.

This is my piece: it is an anemone, which has become my favourite flower. In shooting the flowers that arrive each week, I am particularly drawn to the anemones. Every bunch that arrives is more spectacular than the last. Some have variegated petals, some are a single pure colour; some are completely symmetrical and others are wonderfully wild and wiggly. The canvas is 30"x40" and I applied silver leaf to cover it. The photograph is then printed and then painted in certain areas with acrylic paint. It shimmers as the light hits it and changes as one moves by. I have become enamoured with printing my images on metal surfaces. There are two other pieces on display - a 36"x36" of lilacs on aluminum and a 24"x24" dandelion on zinc.

There is a selection of my matted photographs and notecards on display too. And on 18 May, after the group exhibition, I will hang a number of other pieces in all sorts of sizes and mixed media.

Antoine Hunt is a wonderful photographer. I have long been a fan of his work, particularly his cyanotypes. There is a stunning simplicity to them; the intensity of the blue and the clarity of his compositions are incredibly powerful.

Jon Faulkner is a talented potter who creates an array of fabulous pieces at his Dockyard studio. From vases and jugs to funky teapots and sugar bowls, plates and napkin rings. Jon's glazes are gorgeous; and in this particular vase he has incorporated flecks of Heineken glass and rust from a Victorian canon.  

This is Joy Blackburne, my amazing mother, with her tulip painting. Not only did she create a piece for the exhibition, but she was also on hand to do anything, I mean anything, we needed. She helped me hang all the artwork, made the burlap curtains and even helped with conditioning the flowers. Thank you Mammie for always being there to do anything I ask of you, no matter how crazy!

I have known Alexandra for almost twenty years. It has been wonderful to watch her change from a young girl into an accomplished jewellery designer. A few summers ago, we shared a table at Harbour Nights. I would spend most of the evening untangling her chains and sorting through her gemstones. Playing with the tiny, shiny objects provided me endless entertainment. Meanwhile, Alexandra would engage the passers by, and she too would sparkle as she shared her passion for her art. She now has a gallery of her own filled with all of her pretty, pretty things. This piece is a Phaleonopsis orchid hair-piece. A cut here, a bang there, a bend this way and that; all her hard work really has brought the sterling silver to life.

Meet Indigo and Oslo, my adorable niece and nephew. My sister Sacha is a fabulous photographer and one of the most creative people I know. She is a dreamer, an eternal optimist and touches the heart of everyone she meets. The portraits she takes of her children and of her clients are just beautiful and I stalk her blog everyday! She is enamoured with fairytales and has been incorporating the magic of these stories into her shoots. She had originally planned on the Princess and the Pea, but Oslo appeared on the scene, and with such a dashing Prince, how could she possibly refuse. I don't remember the ending, but I am pretty sure it ends with the Princess and the Prince living happily ever after and that the pea is pulverised... Thank you Sacha for pushing me to be a better photographer. I can't tell you how much our sharing means to me!

Nikki Murray-Mason and I became friends twenty years ago while working together at Bermuda Homes and Gardens magazine. We would devise all sorts of fabulous pieces for the magazine and had a grand time putting together a publication that we hoped inspired people to create. Nikki is still inspiring people to create; not only does she make these marvellous mosaic pieces, she also holds classes to help others make something spectacular.

Many moons ago, Liz Andrade-Arnold was a wedding photographer; she actually photographed my wedding in 1993, when I was but a wee lass! Now she incorporates photography into her mixed media pieces. She took home a beautiful bunch of white fringe tipped tulips. She photographed the flowers and created two pieces using the photographs as a base then layering them with various media - and even included the tissue that the flowers had been wrapped in.

There are also many other beautiful pieces on display by Rhona Emmerson, Amy and Vaughan Evans, Aubry Hardy, Kelly Hunt, Stephen West, Lynn Wahl, and Kathy Zuill. A huge thank you to all the artists for participating, it is wonderful to see all of your interpretations of the flowers. 

Please come by and have a peek; the space really is lovely. A lady came in on Monday and proclaimed that we needed a sofa. That the space is so beautiful and tranquil that she'd like to stop in regularly for a cup of tea. There actually will be a sofa soon, so you'll have somewhere comfy to sit and watch while Sarah or Kirsteen gather together your hand-selected blooms.

And lastly, this is what Kirsteen put together for me on Friday to bring home. The vase is a flower pail that Nikki and I found in an antique shop in New York on the way back from the Flowerwild workshop in Palm Springs. The cherry blossoms have now opened, the peonies have puffed up and the tulips have grown. Each morning, as I stumble to the kitchen for my morning coffee, I pass them. The sunlight through the French door illuminates the blooms and I pause to enjoy them. Flowers really do make me happy... So Nikki, thank you, I am so grateful to have been a part of this incredible journey.

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