Vernal equinox March 20, 2015, 6:45 PM EDT. Earlier in the week it was sunny and 80°F. Now, following a rainy afternoon yesterday, our first day of spring is overcast and 46°F. Tomorrow the weather should be nice again and warmer, 70°F.
Given yesterday’s rainy forecast it was a perfect time to travel to Raleigh to view a special floral show on opening day at the North Carolina Museum of Art.
For this 4-day inaugural event called Art In Bloom, 45 floral designers each were paired with works of art from the museum’s permanent collection and invited to create interpretations of the art using flowers. (This has been done in other cities for a few years, but it was the first time for our state museum).
The displays were fascinating. They were large, rich in color and texture, featuring familiar and exotic materials (such as anthuriums, calla lilies, orchids, roses, proteas, tropical leaves) and they were presented in an array of interesting containers and frameworks.
Included among the 45 designers were my two teachers who, for the last several years, have offered flower arranging classes through the local garden club. Seeing their work in this exhibit was particularly exciting. Unfortunately the quality of the dozens of photos I took were extremely disappointing and does not show their work to best advantage.
Jinny was assigned a Roman statue of Herakles. She responded to the white marble by using shiny and rough metal sculpture and anthurium with foliage. Sorry I cut off the top of the design–I could joke about where my eyes were but I truly was trying to include the description on the front of the stand.
In a different gallery, Betsy’s arrangement was facing a different work of art than her assigned inspiration piece, Sunset (Medusa) (1945) by Eugene Berman. She seems to have played off both works of art.
This morning I returned to the museum for another Art In Bloom event.
Ikebana: Classical to Modern. Kyoko Petersen of the American Institute of Floral Design is a professor in the Ikenobo Ikebana school in Kyoto, Japan, the birthplace of ikebana. The presentation highlights classical ikebana arrangements along with newer styles introduced in the 20th century.
The demonstration was marvelous. It was enlightening to watch and listen as Kyoko created a dozen spectacular designs. She worked with many beautiful flowers, including orchids, anemones, peonies, quince and her favorite, camellias.
In some arrangements she strictly adhered to traditional principles set out hundreds of years ago, where nine elements of nature are represented (such as shady side, sunny side, waterfall). There are specific instructions for placement that cannot be altered. She began with this traditional design representing landscape.
Several of her designs illustrated 20th century adaptations made by the head master of the Ikenobo Ikebana school where she teaches. (The head master is forty-something generation.) The newer style takes into account people live not in castles, but rather in smaller houses. Also today the designs can take advantage of a wider repertoire of materials than those historically available. Kyoko also demonstrated free-form creations.
This design illustrates the modern simplification the master created in the 20th century.
This was one of my favorite designs. I tried to remember what the unusual leaves are called, perhaps begins with “Renaissance”? The surprising use of yellow pansy at the bottom adds finishing touch.
This final design of the morning was an effusively abundant celebration of Spring, using camellias, peonies, variegated pine and orchids over a framework of weeping willow and weeping cherry. (Sorry for poor photo quality but perhaps you can get an idea.)
Kyoko’s presentation has inspired me to try to learn more about Ikebana. Another event today that was sold out but would have been fascinating, was a hands-on master class with Shane Connolly, Royal Florist. He designed the flowers for the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. If you happen to be local to the Raleigh area, Art In Bloom is well worth your time.
So that is how I welcomed the changing season. And tomorrow I hope to back in my garden.