Spain’s Festival Flora invited five international floral artisans to take a journey through Cordoba and leave their delicate mark on the town’s historic buildings and pavilions. The event’s theme, “Journey”, signals a feeling of movement created through this fragile art-form and, to ensure peak freshness during the ten-day event, the artists chose their materials carefully favoring local flowers with longer than average lifespans.
Bookending the festival were flower installation workshops and lectures designed to educate and inspire admirers and experts alike: A local wine shop hosted a floral alchemy lecture, the Royal Botanical Garden Cordoba held workshops led by Spanish florists, while others encouraged participants to make bouquets with leftover flowers from the exhibitions.
Contributor Liat Gorodenzik attended the festival in Cordoba on October 18th – 27th, 2019. Her report features five international floral artists: Mary Lennox from Australia, Lisa Waud from the United States, Thierry Boutemy from France, PHKA from Thailand, and Flor Motion from Spain.
PHKA (pronounced pha-kha, meaning flower in Thai) is a cross-disciplinary floral studio and collective from Thailand. Established in 2013, the studio previously created a project called “Abandoned One” — installing red anthurium flowers on the outside wall of a nightclub to attract attention to the floral wall as a new architectural concept.
For Festival Flora, PHKA created an installation at Patio de la Capilla (“Courtyard of the Chapel”) at Palacio de Viana. Their concept was the journey of the cut flower: from seed, rooting into the earth, growth and, finally, cutting for exhibition.
Named after the protagonist of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s novel ‘The Secret Garden’, Mary Lennox is a Berlin-based floral studio and consultancy creating botanical set designs. Founder Ruby Barber trained in Sydney before moving to Berlin where she has become a well-known floral artist. Barber’s design style blends her keen observations of the natural world and her use of unique flowers.
Mary Lennox took over Córdoba’s Palacio de Orive, creating an installation made up of dried lavender and wheat (both natively grown in Spain). One technique used created a slight mirror-like image when the two materials were viewed from a certain angle.
The installation created not only a visual impression, but the scent of lavender and use of lightweight tulle fabric in the environment added additional layers and textures, framing the work and creating a soft feeling of movement to the Palicio.
The craft and beauty reflected in the works of French floral designer Thierry Boutemy has cemented his reputation as a key figure. Since 1987, Boutemy has overlapped floristry with fashion, art, film, and events — always leaving traces of his technical mastery in a variety of exciting installations.
Boutemy says his work relies on visual memories from his childhood, the influence of which can be seen in his installation in Patio del Reloj de la Deputacion. A window into a wild and scenic world, his installation builds upon Festival Flora’s theme of “Journey”. Entering darkness from light, you can see the intricate use of flower bulbs, petals, wild dried plants, and dried lavender. When walked upon by the observer, a scent rises from beneath — bringing the viewer deeper into the world of this work.
Lisa Waud is a U.S.-based botanical installation artist best known for filling an abandoned Detroit, Michigan house with more than 100,000 flowers and plants to dramatic effect (Flower House).
At Festival Flora, Waud created an immersive three-part exhibition called ‘Museum of Botanical Memory’ at the Archeological Museum in Cordoba. Her goal was to give viewers a sense of gratitude for the present moment through nostalgia from a future perspective. To do this, she created an environment designed to quiet modern life and foster an appreciation for the disappearing natural world.
Best known for their hashtags #masflorporfavor and #guerillafloral, Flor Motion is a group of florists based in Madrid. They have created a flower art movement by crafting floral installations in public places and leaving traces of bouquets around the city to be discovered by the public and taken home.
Working as a team, Flor Motion created a next-level installation called ‘Frenzied’ in Codoba’s 17th Century Casa Gongora. The exhibition, focused on cotton flowers from three continents and handwoven wicker, impressed the jury enough to award Flor Motion this year’s 25.000€ festival prize.
“Everything is movement and flows until it becomes part of vastly diverse cultures on a journey that, encompassing the senses, is more historical than geographical. Like cotton seeds, whose remote origins can be traced back to America, Africa and Hindu roots, it expands and is scattered in its search for land that will embrace it. A subtle dust cloud that picks up spices, seeds and nuances of light along the way and, on this extended voyage, rises, undulating, to form alliances with diverse continents, cultures and groups. A colourful expression of nature in movement.” – Flor Motion