Floristry as Self-Expression

26 July 2019

By LFS tutor Federica Carlini

As floral designers, we use flowers as a tool for self-expression, but ultimately often find it difficult to view ourselves through our creations. My desire to experiment with this concept led to a recent project in which students at London Flower School translated their inner perceived self onto their portrait through the medium of flowers.

For many years, I have been working on a project called Notamaranto - a contemporary botanical catalogue in which photographer Nikola Lorenzin and I used photography to investigate how natural elements can reshape one’s expression and definition in their portrait. We have explored how these natural elements can free the individual from recognized labelling and they can extend their identity through the classification of nature.

Notamaranto, by Federica Carlini and Nikola Lorenzin

As reference for this project at LFS and for my work on Notamaranto, I looked to the work of Karl Blossfeldt for inspiration. His botanical images brought the beauty and majesty of nature, commonly overlooked at first sight, to prominence in the early part of the 20th century. Blossfeldt never considered himself as a photographer or botanist, but rather a sculptor and ultimately a teacher, using photography to encourage others to direct their attention and thoughts to the natural world.

The project at LFS consisted of combining each student’s photographic portrait - their external representation of themselves - with an image of their Ikebana arrangement, an expression of their inner self through this Japanese floral art form. The principle of Ikebana itself being that the arrangement reflects the personality of the arranger and their emotions during the creation process.

Ikebana arrangements created by LFS students Hye Won Shin and Barbara Chire

Combining these two elements, we then presented a new visual representation for our final installation. The combined images of portraits and ikebana arrangements were then projected onto a flower wall, the shapes and textures of which contributing to the depth of the project.

My passion to explore concepts of self-expression through floristry is the reason why this project was so important to me. Like Blossfeldt’s approach to his art, our floral journey starts with our connection to our material. Using the visual power of natural material such as flowers; their colour, texture, shape and form, results in a true reflection of our self through our creation.