In usual circumstances, I might have some sympathy for Miranda Priestly's famously cutting put-down from 2006 film The Devil Wears Prada; “Florals? For Spring. Groundbreaking.” However nothing about 2020 so far has been usual. It might look like April out there, but it’s not been life as we know it. Right now, we’re enjoying nature from our windows, our balconies and gardens, plus of course, our limited and sanctioned one walk of the day.
And it can be painful. Because what could help more at this time than the well-documented mental health benefits provided by a prolonged walk in the park amongst nature with your favourite book, or that holiday you booked to the countryside which has just been cancelled?
So I’m going to argue that far from being trite, florals right now are not only groundbreaking, but essential. And the good news? Not only are our band of talented artists reinventing the floral with origami butterflies masquerading as blooms or the death throes of a dancing lily, they are also, of course, a great way of bringing a bit of well-documented mood-boosting flower-power into your home.
FOCUS ON FLORAL ART
If you grew up with pampas grass, swirly carpets and wood chip wallpaper, it might be hard to reconcile yourself with the fact that dried flowers are now big news. But big they are, fitting with another trend; sustainability. Helen Nottage’s 'Heliotrope' brings together English barn dances and Mexico’s Dia de Muertos and somehow, it manages to feel very boho chic.
The blooms in Caroline Preston’s 'Blossom' might look like dried versions if the real deal but look closer and you’ll see that they are actually hundreds of perfectly formed washi paper origami butterflies. In Japan, these symbolise hope, peace and love. And that seems pretty apt for our current situation.
If that all seem a bit maximalist for you, you’ll be pleased to hear that in 2020, bloom-based minimalism works too. That means it’s buy one, get one free on the trend box ticking with the starkly beautiful dried flowers in Rebekah Taylor’s tribute to the lily.
But if you need something softer and more traditional this trend delivers that too. Peony season fever is an actual thing on social media, with more than 3.5 million hashtags. This makes Susan Cairns’ sumptuous 'Peonies' practically perfect in every way.
The Indoor Generation
Hand in hand with the 1970’s trend that spawned dried flowers, goes the vogue for houseplants. According to online plant store Patch, last year 67% of Londoners bought a houseplant and in 2018 RHS retail reported a houseplant sales growth of 50%. So it would be remiss not to mention the movement’s king and Instagram favourite: The cheese plant. Donald MacLean’s 'Monstera-Deliciosa Isometric' is the perfect tribute.
Meanwhile equally photogenic Cacti continue to feature heavily on our Pinterest boards. 'Echino Cactus', Joanna Padfield’s fun Linocut has ‘put me in your home office and smile’ practically printed on the reverse.
Corinne Natal works from her studio in North London. If this seems an odd location for a portfolio of work which just sings with spring, it shouldn’t. Natal’s studio is slap bang in the middle of her stunning garden and 'Efflorenscence 3' was painted just as it was coming to life again after the English winter. It perfectly captures the feelings we get on those rare moments we aren’t in the house.
But for something a bit more subtle, a spring breeze washes through Wuhan-based Mu Beini’s soothing lithographs. Her series of florals suits the calm minimalist vibe which has been coming through in interiors for the past 6 months but will also, handily, really help get you in the mood for your Zoom yoga class.
If both these paintings embody spring then Nicky Chubb’s 'Happy Dance' is summer distilled into 80cm by 70cm. It’s warm; it’s happy; it’s bright. And those flowers are totally flossing.
Finally, one of the most classic and loved flowers of all time, the rose gets some edge with Kareem Azim’s collage 'Roses, proving that florals can be industrial and retro when the mood takes them.
See, groundbreaking florals all over the place! Why not take a further look for yourself in our curated category of beautiful blooms.
Allan Forsyth, Wild Heart, 2020, £3000, photograph, limited edition of 25, Wychwood Art.
Featured art from first to last:
Helen Nottage, Heloptropic, 2020, £2,250, ceramic, original, Iona House Gallery.
Caroline Preston, Blossom, 2020, £2250, paper, original, The Art Movement.
Rebekah Taylor, Lily 2 The Last Dance, 2015, £300, photograph, limited edition, REN Fine Art.
Susan Cairns, Peonies, 2020, £2450, oil, original, The Art Agency.
Donald MacLean, Monstera-Deliciosa, Isometric, 2019, £950, acrylic, original, Alpha Art Gallery.
Joanna Padfield, Echino Cactus, 2019, £45, linocut, limited edition of 50, Wychwood Art.
Corinne Natel, Efflorescence #3, 2019, £1800, acrylic, original, Caiger Contemporary Art.
Mu Beini, Flower's Whisper IV, 2019, £200, lithograph, limited edition of 30, ArtChina.
Nicky Chubb, Happy Dance I, 2020, £995, acrylic, original, The Art Agency.
Kareem Rizk, Roses, 2019, £250, collage, original, Smithson Gallery.