Petra Blahova is a graphic designer based in the United Kingdom, whose love of “screenprinting, yoga and drinking beer” makes me wonder if she shouldn’t move to Portland post-haste! And based on her “My Garden” series, we share at least one more thing in common: a love of botanical design. Petra has used plant materials including berries, flowers and leaves gathered from her neighborhood to create these frozen ice letters. I think I’ve seen this same concept used to freeze edible flowers into decorative ice cube garnishes for iced tea or summer cocktails. How cool would it be to combine the ideas to spell out a word in the punch bowl at your next garden party? Matt Mattus, I’m looking it you!
Karl Blossfeldt (1865 – 1932) was a self-taught artist and teacher who used nature’s many forms to inspire his sculpture students. Blossfeldt created what could be one of the earliest cameras ever to take what modern photographers consider “macro” photographs: that is, the camera was able to magnify the image of its subject by 30 times. He first published his work in a book titled Urformen der Kunst, or Art Forms in Nature, and took the public by storm almost overnight. Images of this detail had previously never been seen before.
What makes Blossfeldt’s work so unique is not just their size and detail, but also the way in which he chose to photograph his subjects. By shooting against a plain backdrop, he takes ordinary items like flower heads and seed pods out of context and presents them as natural sculptures of their own. A nature lover as well as artist, Blossfeldt focused especially on moments of change in a plant’s lifecycle – leaves just about to unfurl, buds just about to break and tendrils as they reach and grasp. These imbue his images with life and motion.
Andreas Verheijen has a long and storied history in the horticultural arts. Growing up in Holland, the epicenter of the world’s floral trade, he was exposed to his subjects from an early age. After 16 years as a floral sales executive for Harrod’s in London as well as owning his own flower shop, the certified Master Florist now spends his time creating unique editorial and events for a wide range of clients.
His Engineering series is an ongoing project that allows Andreas the freedom not just to arrange flowers, but to create them. His hybrids are fascinating amalgamations of different species that, even to the trained eye, raise questions about their veracity. What I love about these is that they are reminiscent of the “one weird plant” advertisements that are ubiquitous on website sidebars nowadays. Just the other day, I came across someone asking if this image of a Pandanus fruit was real. Spoiler alert – it is!
There’s not a lot of information out there about Spanish artist Ana Domínguez. From what I gather, she both creates her own illustrations and acts as an art director on various projects for different brands and organizations. One of those groups happens to be The Plant Journal, also based out of Spain, about whom I am very enthusiastic. With the help of the journal’s Isa Merino, Domínguez created the series Birds and Insects, photographed by Coke Bartrina. Ostensibly these collages of plant parts were to be used in an upcoming issue, although I have yet to see them published. All the more reason for me to share them with you!
Eye Heart Spleen is a series of photographs shot by artist Camila Carlow. Born in Guatemala and now residing in Bristol, England, Carlow has rendered some of the most recognizable and crucial parts of the human anatomy using local plants and weeds. Her hope is to draw attention to the way in which our bodies are their own complex, living ecosystems, much like the environment outside us.
I’ve written previously about how clever I think it is drawing parallels between human and botanical sexuality. We don’t think of plants as sexual organisms, but in fact the parts about them we often appreciate most – their flowers and fruit – could be considered plant genitalia. Which is why I love that Camila has used flower blossoms, for example, to represent nipples, and apples to represent gonads. Because what most people don’t realize when they take a bit of a juicy piece of fruit is that what they’re sinking their teeth into is a nice, engorged plant ovary. Yummy, right?