As an artist Alice McCabe often integrated flowers and foliage into her work; so entering the world of floristry didn’t seem too far a stretch. Today Alice’s workshops in Bermondsey and Camberwell offer bespoke, colour-laden arrangements far more akin to paintings than the stuffy bouquets of high street florists.
“I always think of my style of floristry as being a lot like landscape painting, constructed by balancing colours, she says. “I’m much more comfortable creating pieces that face one-way, which I guess stems from working with a canvas.”
Some of her regular pieces are her monthly zodiac arrangements, where she uses what’s in season to create different monthly bouquets. “I’m a Scorpio born in November and there’s a lot of fluffy things around then like astilbe. I remember making one arrangement with lilac plumes and a lot of protea and eucalyptus as well – because they are available then – throwing in some berries as well for good measure."
Alice also works with other artists bring her floral eye to their creations. “I’ve done work for Holly White for a show at Jupiter Moon Gallery where I made a garland out of recycled flowers and vases out of orange juice satchels,” she explains. “I like to think about doing things on a budget, such as foraging for flowers, or if I know people with a garden using those. That kind of connects with arts as well. You get so used to working on a budget, finding other alternatives is quite an enjoyable process.”
When she’s not foraging, Alice sources most of her flowers from Battersea flower market, rising early to trawl the stands and hand select the right materials from which to create her masterpieces, as she talks about in the film above. Want to give floristry a go yourself? Alice explains the basics to get you started.
A mini guide for trying floristry at home
1. Remember that not everything in your arrangement has to be a showstopper – leaves and long grasses make for wonderful, wild filler plants. Embrace foliage – it exists all around us.
2. If you have a garden, try to use some flowers from there. If not, some really easy flowers to grow on window ledges and small balconies include African violet, marigold and begonias. While I don’t condone picking flowers that have been planted in public spaces, a lot of the plants considered weeds and found growing between the cracks of the city can also be used for creating a beautiful centrepiece.
3. Start by laying all of the flowers on the table, placing the foliage down first and building from there, lifting to see what it looks like as you go along.
4. Take two things that don’t really go together. Or choose something ugly and find a way to make it work even if you have to chop the head off or take the petals off to do that.
5. Be bold and follow your instinct. Flower arranging is a very personal and instinctive thing. 6. Finally, always tie your arrangement together with sustainably sourced, biodegradable twine, string or ribbon.
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