May 2016

Growing up with a father as a gardener and an intrinsic love for art and the natural world, Rebecca Louise Law's decision to work in floral artistry comes as no surprise.

With a fine art background and a love for experimenting with materials, techniques and styles, Rebecca's floral installations have captured the imagination of many; she has exhibited the world over and is now looking at new ways to work with flowers, from installation to preservation. We caught up with Rebecca to find out what makes her tick, what her views are of contemporary floristry and what's next on the cards. One thing is for sure, work is blooming.

You describe yourself as an installation artist and not a florist, tell us more about your work?

I studied Fine Art, initially as a printmaker and painter. Oil paints were my principle medium and I became fascinated by the relationship between the viewer and artwork in terms of colour and scale. I remember sitting in a gallery surrounded by Rothkos and thinking 'how can I do that?' I loved the way I felt enveloped by colour and with it came a sensory experience. I experimented in making my canvas bigger and layering materials onto the work - I wanted the paint to escape the canvas.

A series of strange experiments with wire and paint started, but nothing felt right. After a year of playing around with food, fabric, plastic, wire and paint I finally found flowers. I completely abandoned the canvas and 2D work, flowers became my paint and a room my canvas. For 13 years I have been experimenting with preserving flowers within my work. My goal has always been to paint with flowers. I see a space and it becomes my canvas, the flowers are my paint.

My ideal space is still a white cube, gallery setting, but I can work with most buildings. I love my work to be permanent and a part of a building. Every flower is entwined with copper and attached to the building. With air circulating the flower slowly dries, retaining its natural oils and maturing in colour. Over the years the colour finally fades to leave the form of the flower. The intention of my work is to be permanent, for the viewer to value flowers with a new perspective, allowing time to study nature.

Your father is a gardener, was a career in floral art a natural progression?

I found flowers whilst I was looking into my family history for inspiration at art school. I grew up with dried flowers hanging in my attic, which my parents would sell at our front garden gate and I asked my Father if I could cut some fresh flowers to use as an art material, with intention to dry them within a sculpture. My parents have always been encouraging when it comes to creating with nature at the core. My Father is retiring this year, but he is still passionate about opening up eyes to the wonders of this world. He is an inspiration in his own life ethos.

You’re located on the Columbia Road in East London, what’s your favourite aspect of the area?

The community, I love my neighbours. We're like a crazy family of every age. I've always had incredible local support, I can't imagine working without them.

What’s better to work with, fresh or dried flowers?

Both are great, but dried can be layered and have a more fluid form. I like to start fresh in a more mathematical temporary installation, de-install this and create a permanent fluid sculpture, either as an encased small piece or a large hanging installation.

What happens to the flowers after they’re exhibited?

Nothing is wasted, often the patron wants small encased pieces made for permanent collections. If not, the flowers are stored in our studio and sorted into colour to use in future exhibitions.

You’ve exhibited at the Royal Academy, The Victoria and Albert Museum,even Times Square, what’s been the highlightofyour career so far?

I've recently created an installation in Melbourne, Australia with 150,000 flowers. It's my largest permanent installation and a huge achievement. I feel very proud of it.

Have you noticed an increased interest in floral design and floristry?

I've noticed many more floral artists; it's great to see more freedom and creativity with flowers as a medium.

What’s the best type of flower to work with?

At the moment I would stay Statice, mainly due to how reliable it was for me in Australia.

Do you have a favourite?

I personally love the Garden Rose, you can't beat its scent.

Finally, what’s next for Rebecca Louise Law?

I'm really excited by the permanent works that I have been making at the beginning of new builds alongside architects. My work is being trusted and I have freedom with the spaces that I am given. I feel like I have only just started painting with flowers and I can't wait to see what I'll be able to create in the future.

Portrait photograph: Rebecca Louise Law © Fabio Affuso