My interest in flowers coincided with a project I was doing on colour. I’d been advising a photographic company and became interested in how arbitrary colour can be in photo post-production.
I’d already been doing some work on the origins of our sense of colour. Humans have an insatiable need of it. I began reading about flowers and their role as the original colour palette for humanity.
Flowers would have been a major source of colour before pigment industries evolved.
I think therefore humans would have used colour as classification systems, almost the original form of categorisation and intelligence, drawing on what they saw in the flower and plant universe.
They would have used flowers and plant colours to describe the world. Homer’s wine dark sea for example.
The interpretation of the world would have begun with the colours, shades and meaning of night and day, twilight and dawn.
Colour as a form of intelligence would have embraced seasons obviously, drawing on what flowers and how: blossom, bloom and fruit; adding in experiences like rain and drought and how these affected plant life; contrasts like ochre, mud, dryness and starvation.
I want to express those experiences through flower photography by bringing in some appreciation of age, decay and life.
I also think this art has to retain an arbitrary element. I don’t arrange flowers beyond simple placement here and there. And when I arrange it is usually with an eye to keeping some imperfection, a lack of symmetry to remind myself that knowledge is never perfect.