Art in Bloom 2017: Mesoamerica

In my third and last post for Art in Bloom 2017, I’m sharing the floral design found in the Mesoamerican gallery.

Inspired by the Incense Burner
By Ailsa Tessier

It seems like all the floral arrangements ever designed for the Mesoamerican artefacts are always so elegant. This one is no exception. Inspired by the incense burner, you can almost see the smoke rising from the arrangement with the thin branches and the arum lilies in the vases in the back. With several vases, the arrangement has depth and texture fitting with the nature of the artefact and its purpose.  I like it.

And that’s it for Art in Bloom 2017!

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Art in Bloom 2017: Greece, Rome and South Italy

In my second post about Art in Bloom, I am presenting the floral designs associated with artefacts from Greece, Rome and Greek colonies in South Italy.

Inspired by the Torso of Aphrodite
By Diane Joyal

Numerous people mentioned how wonderful it was that the designer had included a seashell-shaped vase for this arrangement.  I’ll admit that I did not even notice… because I was puzzled by the two vases.  The pale-coloured arrangement represented exterior forces of nature, while the darker one the ‘watery feminine domain of the inner world.’  I did not get it.  However, the roses and the myrtles are actually flowers associated with Aphrodite, so kudos for that.

Inspired by the Theatre Relief
By Erica Winston

I enjoyed the vibrant and contrasting colours of this arrangement, which, according to the label, matched the strong forms of the relief.  Considering that the relief is related to theatre, this is a great idea… although I do find that the forms in the relief are not that strong (especially when you see the relief straight on)!

Inspired by the Double Vase with a Central Handle
By EW Fulcher

Oh! This is my favourite of the ancient art inspired arrangements! Excellent work! I love how the designer replicated the shape of the actual artefact, but also mimicking the decorative lines painted on them. I would have loved to see pink flowers instead of the orange ones, simply to reflect the bright pink used on this wonderful South Italian vessel. It is such an astonishingly vivid colour! Okay, I’ll admit being somewhat biased because the South Italian ceramics were studied this fall and we’ll be analysing the bright pink pigment in the coming months!
This floral arrangement gets the ‘curator’s favourite’ ribbon!

Inspired by the Celestial God or Hero
By Steve Taras

I think it’s a bit too easy to use pale-coloured flowers to illustrate a white marble sculpture. Considering that the statue represents either Helios, the Greek god of the sun, or one of the Dioscuri–Castor or Pollux–the twins sons of Leda who are the patrons of sailors (who appear to them as St. Elmo’s Fire), also associated with horsemanship.  A bit more colour would have been appropriate and welcome.
That being said, Steve Taras won my curatorial ribbon last year with his spectacular mosaic of flowers… Not so this year.

And to end this particular post, l am adding another classically-inspired floral arrangement, but this one is neo-classical Roman goddess displayed in the European galleries. In this instance, the white orchids absolutely work, especially associated with the rattan structure that is both imposing and fragile. The design beautifully represents the goddess.

Inspired by the Venus Italica
By Carol Innskeep

 

The third and last Art in Bloom post will come soon!

 

Art in Bloom 2017: Ancient Egypt

This past weekend, the NCMA hosted its third annual floral fundraiser Art in Bloom. Once again, designers picked a work of art out of a hat and created a floral arrangement inspired by that artwork.  As I have done in the past, I visited the galleries for this colourful occasion and am presenting on An Archaeologist’s Diary the ones found in my ancient galleries.  Let’s start with ancient Egypt, shall we?

Inspired by the Inner Coffin of Djedmut
By Bonnie Mirmak

I must admit that this particular arrangement did not strike my fancy even though I like blue, indigo and purple flowers. The colours found on the coffin are reflected in the choice of flowers, but I found the arrangement too horizontal for such a tall and slim artefact. (Actually, the design made me think of a boat and there is an ancient  Egyptian model boat nearby.)  However, I did notice how some of the papyrus umbels were gathered and tied at the top and that reminded me of the white crown of Upper Egypt (Whether this was intentional, I did not know. The description references flowers found on coffins…)

Inspired by the Reclining Bull
By Avant Gardeners Garden Club

This was my favourite floral design in the Egyptian galleries.  I thought it was a wonderfully whimsical interpretation of the work–inspired not just be the colours but also the shape,  down to the horns! What made me smile was the little bell hanging from the plants gathered at the top.  A fun element that reminds us all of the bells around cows’ neck and the melodic sound of them moving around.  Nice job!  (And the club has a cool name, too!)

 

 

Art in Bloom 2016 (Etruria and Rome)

In this third and last post about floral designs inspired by ancient art, I’m presenting those found in the Classical galleries.  They include one Etruscan piece and four marble sculptures–the last one being my absolute favourite for 2016.

Inspired by the Antefix in the Shape of a Satyr’s Head
By Michael Whaley

While I can see the shape of the satyr’s head and his messed up hair in the floral arrangement, I have to admit that it did not inspire me one bit.  I didn’t like the use the of flat green leaves to create the shape.  However, by the comments I overheard, the design was pleasing to other people…

Inspired by the Bust of Marcus Aurelius
By Angela Marchesi

I liked this one, but I’m not quite sure why… The use of the red anthuriums brought a little regal touch to the composition and I liked the addition of the papyrus… (I think it’s papyrus… the name of the plants used the arrangement was not listed on the label.)  Marcus Aurelius visited Egypt (at the very least Alexandria) during the revolt led by Avidius Cassius. The designer also used thistles and although the Roman presence in Scotland was intermittent, I find the use of this plant interesting here (thistles were quite popular this year). To me, it sort of spoke of the width and breadth of the Roman Empire.  I wish the designer would have included a description of her design and she pulled inspiration from… me, I’m probably reading too much history in all of this!

Inspired by Torso of an Emperor in the Guise of Jupiter
By Sarah Callahan

This floral composition is wonderful and very imaginative!  The florist described her composition as the god Jupiter  gazing down at the emperor… you can totally see Jupiter in the tall column with its planet-like flowers and grasses.  The emperor would be the smaller column. Very delightful!

Inspired by Aeschylus
By Brian Hyde

DSCN4810I quite like this floral arrangement… the pussy willow branches have always been some of my favourite plants (they grew near my house when I was a kid).  The colour–a wonderful dark green–and the velvety texture of the composition are very soothing. It’s almost like the forest had become very Zen.  The arrangement is simple but very elegant.  It’s right up my alley.

However, I’m not quite sure I get the connection with Aeschylus, the Greek tragedian (he wrote between 70 and 90 plays, but only seven survive).

Inspired by the Mosaic
By Steve Taras

This last floral design is my absolutely favourite of Art in Bloom 2016!  It is wonderful in so many ways.  The use of the marble trays speaks to one of the materials in the mosaic and the colourful flowers are like the glass tesserae that create the pattern.  While the stems are cur short, the flowers are not crammed in the trays like sardines… they breathe… and they actually look like colourful cupcakes in an elaborate cupcake tree!  The levels and vertical lines are also reminiscent of Classical architecture.  The whole arrangement speaks to me… it is superb!

That’s it for Art in Bloom 2016.

 

Art in Bloom 2016 (Egypt)

With this second post about floral arrangements found in the ancient galleries, I’d like to present the two that were located in the Egyptian section.  I’m also including another floral design inspired by something Egyptian that is found elsewhere in the Museum.

Inspired by the Amulet of Isis and Horus
By Cydney Davis-English

At first, this arrangement didn’t really grab me–probably because I couldn’t see a connection to the actual work of art. However, after reading the description offered by the florist, my opinion somewhat changed. I truly appreciated her effort to rehabilitate the name of this Egyptian deity…. Let’s face it, when we hear the name ‘Isis’ in the media these days, the great Egyptian goddess is not what comes to mind. Unfortunately.

Inspired by the Face from a Wooden Coffin
By Sherri Suttle

In terms of flowers, this is not really what I would associate with an Egyptian coffin. I think it might be because the colours are so dark. They are usually so much more vibrant than that…  The design is not bad per se, but it doesn’t feel very Egyptian to me.  However, the ‘Kiss of Death ginger’ sparked a conversation between me and my friend Corey and complete strangers.  None of us knew what the heck ‘Kiss of Death ginger’ was!  It’s that think that looks like a pine cone.  We actually had to Google it. In a way, the name of that plant (if not the plant itself) was fitting for a coffin!
And now the Egyptianizing surprise I mentioned above. This can be found in the European galleries…

Inspired by the Banquet of Cleopatra and Antony
By Julie Vaughan

My first view of this particular floral arrangement was the back of it (photo on the left).  And I did not like it!  However, as I went around to see the front I realised the back was much better… because I really, really did not like the recto (photo on the right).  I have come to realise that I don’t particularly like when flowers with short stems are crammed together like sardines.  What I did find amusing, though, is that when you look at the verso of the arrangement, you see another picture of Cleopatra. Take a look a the picture on the left and you’ll see in the background our friend Cleo about to dunk a pearl in her cup of vinegar. (Yes, we have two paintings of Cleopatra in that one gallery of the Museum.)

Art in Bloom 2016 (Mesoamerica)

Again this year the Museum is hosting its fabulous Art in Bloom event, which was extremely popular in 2015.  The fundraiser, which started yesterday, runs through Sunday and, in the next few days, I will share images and impressions of the floral installations in my ancient galleries. Let us start with Mesoamerica…

Inspired by Standing Female Figurine from West Mexico
By Joseph Barnes

I find this floral arrangement very simple yet elegant. However, I find it more inspired by ideas and impressions of the cultures of ancient Americas rather than the figurine itself.  The round yellow flowers remind me of maize kernels and large-bead necklaces, the use of wood brings impressions of people living in harmony with nature…  I’ll admit that as far as Nayarit figurines go (we’re talking about the one alone in the upper left corner of the display case), this one is not particularly inspiring… I find the flowers more alluring than the work of art!

Art in Bloom (Greece and Rome)

Continuing with on my floral and spring theme, today I present the four floral arrangements that were in the Classical galleries.  These cover more square footage than the Egyptian space and more floral designs could be incorporated.

Inspired by Aphrodite of Cyrene
Floral design by Carol Inskeep

Orchid arrangement inspired by the marble statue of Aphrodite

Orchid arrangement inspired by the marble statue of Aphrodite

Photographing against a sunny background is not ideal, but you see Aphrodite as an elegant silhouette. Placed behind her was an arrangement of white orchids coming out of glass vessel placed in a square container with blue glass pebbles…   just like the beautiful goddess emerging from the sea! I thought this design very witty and elegant. (My fave of those in the Classical galleries.)

Inspired by Head of a Woman in the Guise of a Goddess
Floral design by Gene Harbaugh

Floral arrangement next to the bronze head of a woman

Floral arrangement next to the bronze head of a woman

This design is well paired with the bronze female head, especially in terms of colour. It is simple, elegant and feminine, but not overly so. A sort of wreath. Yet, the squat bouquet leaves me wanting more…

 

 

Inspired by a Greek Hydria
Floral design by Sally Robinson

Arrangement of dried flowers inspired by a water jar (hydria)

Arrangement of dried flowers inspired by a water jar (hydria)

This one left me thoughtful… the dried flowers were an interesting component playing with the earth-tone colours of the ceramics in the gallery.  However, the fact that a hydria is a jar used specifically for carrying water is lost (although the vase was the colour of the seas).

 

 

Inspired by Herakles
Floral design by Jinny Marino

Flowers for Herakles

Flowers for Herakles

Interestingly, the use of the anthurium, a plant with a rather phallic red spadix, brings a touch of masculinity to the arrangement. Well, it is inspired by a statue of Herakles, a very burly one at that!  The added metal elements make reference to the Herculean strength of our marble man. Pun intended.  Herakles is the Greek version of Hercules.

I have come to the conclusion that my favourite floral arrangements at Art in Bloom were simple with crisp and elegant vertical lines; very contemporary looking.  Enjoy the arrival of spring!