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THE HERALD FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 9 2016


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Visually outstanding ‘Flora’ exhibition EXPERIENCE the last stretch


of a fantastic floral exhibition held at Aberystwyth Arts Centre, because not only is it incredibly ambitious, but it is also visually outstanding. Currently on a tour around three


venues across Wales, ‘Flora’ has resided in Aberystwyth Arts Centre since July 12 and concludes on September 17. Launched in May 2015, Flora is


curated by Oriel Davies and funded by both the Arts Council of Wales and Ernest Cook Trust. To fully appreciate the work


by the 11 key artists, including four commissions and two residencies, the exhibition offers the opportunity to walk around the gallery with an audio description. The audio description allows the partially sighted and blind to engage fully with the exhibition and art displays through narrated information. Flora offers to everyone an artistic


interpretation of the subject of flowers and, as a result, even the title alone definitely flourishes into something most spectacular to the human eye. Each of the 11 artists transform


the idea of flowers from an everyday common weed to flowers which create visible, historical, cultural, geographic, social and scientific ideas. Emma Bennett, Michael Boffey,


Caroline Dear, Ori Gersht, Owen Griffiths, Anne-Mie Melis, Jacques Nimki, Magali Nougarède, Yoshihiro Suda and Clare Twomey each present representations of the floral theme. From pencil drawings to 3D realistic sculptures, the variety of compositions and ideas used experiment with how ‘still life’ reacts within different environments. In the gallery, you can find various


forms of creations by all artists including photography, drawings and life-like


Rhian Boyt


Ceredigion Reporter rhian.boyt@herald.email


creations. An example in the form of


photography is a creation by Israeli Fine Art photographer, Ori Gersht, who presents two versions of his interpretation of flowers. His ‘Chasing Good Fortune’ piece


presents two framed photographs of a white flower branch, shown to be in a vertical order. Within the frames, Gersht transports his interest in symbolism from Japanese culture and represents beauty and war. Gersht worked at various times


of the day on this piece, and clearly ensures that the subject represents forces that challenge and undermine our conventional understanding of the world. Gersht’s second piece in the


exhibition, ‘Time After Time’, produces the opposite reaction. Instead of two still and tranquil pieces, Gersht created a series of three photographs from an ultra high resolution recording. The square images hang in black frames, telling a story from left to right of a bouquet of patriotic white, blue and red flowers fully bloomed. Once you have observed the first


frame, the middle frame presents the outcome of an explosion recorded in a nanosecond. An impressive portrayal, the photo shows torn petals propelling outwards from the glass vase. The reaction from this prepares us


for the third frame where a close up of the brittle flowers show them being thrown out of the vase as a result of the pressure from the sound. Gersht’s gift of photography is successfully challenged in this project and is a brilliant


contribution to ‘Flora’. In a different scenario, in the form


of a life-like display, is the incredibly moving floral display ‘Preserve Beauty’ by Anya Gallaccio. What Gallaccio does so well is transform the every day environment for a flower and create a display in which the flowers test human senses. Made from natural materials, the 600


red Gerberas are packed like sardines behind a wide glass, with the heads pressing together and the stems meeting at the bottom, and then decay over the course of the exhibition. Starting from a vibrant red and into black with mould, even leaking from the display as a result of the decay. From this, the British installation


artist provides a classic example of a flower during its decomposition period and creates a visually powerful piece. We then come across three 3D


sculpted masterpieces from Michael Boffrey, a Liverpudlian artist whose creation looks so simple, yet when we look beneath the surface, there is a moving sentiment. First to mention is his floral


sculpture called ‘How forgiveness lets the evil make a loss’ from 2015. Now, by reading this title, the word ‘loss’ signifies a larger message to be revealed as the piece is observed. Presented as a rectangular bronze


plaque with a flat surface, the eerie yet beautiful piece hangs on the wall to show the scattered remains of flowers that are shown to be trodden on in soft ground. Boffrey gives this impression


by using casting to create a melting effect for the flower in the milky green material, as well as the method of Patination. Then we have Boffrey’s other two


similar creations, namely ‘Cluster’ in an aqua colour and ‘Grand Max’ in a musty purple colour, both from 2014. All three creations together send us a visual message regarding withering flowers and use the right materials to do so. Another artist who brings her


creations back to basics is Anne Mie Melis. Melis, although delivering a simple piece to Flora, should not be underestimated, as beneath it lies many fantastically hidden agendas. Firstly, her ‘Watch my garden grow’


series is presented on graphic paper in a series of eight frames. Each of the drawings show, chronologically, the growth of a flower and when looked at closely, Melis’ detailed drawings are


clearly visible and recorded. Her other piece, ‘Morphogenis III’,


from 2015, presents a large scale pencil drawing on a two-and-a-half metre wide piece of graphic paper pinned to a wall. As an experiment of plant growth,


Melis uses drawing pencils, colour pencils and correction fluid to produce the drawing. The classic method, only when up close, allows us to see small dotted circles portraying the flower membrane in greens, yellows and reds. On the other end of the scale, London-


based visual artist and researcher Clare Twomey brings something to Flora that not only catches the eye, but encourages audience participation. ‘Memento’ creates a display where


2000 handcrafted ceramic flower heads are casually placed in a sea-like effect across the gallery floor. A combination of carnations and large roses, Twomey’s aim is to create a sea of shared memories by allowing each person to write on a card what their first memory of a flower is. This is, in turn, exchanged for a flower. Twomey’s unique experimentation


of the floral theme has seen the display of 2,000 flowers reduced to just fewer than 900 by the time it reached Aberystwyth Arts Centre. An encouraging cause to participate in and to see first-hand the work Twomey has flourished. The sentiment behind the piece exceeds expectations and Twomey has created a beautiful way to get the audience to work their minds, which evidently works. Jacques Nimki’s work at Flora


shows his dedicated work with plants/ weeds in order to explore how we, as humans, perceive value in the world around us. For the exhibition, Nimki presents


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