It all started with my very unprofessionally pressed flower collection. I could not exactly say when the collection began, but I remember the first time someone gave me a flower that I absolutely needed to keep. Eleven years later, the flower, having been pressed between the pages of the book, is a stale, crumbly pile of shrapnel taped inside an old notebook. I look back at some of the flowers I have pressed within many of my books, and like a photograph, memories flood back to me. It does not always happen, but sometimes I remember why I picked it and how I felt in those moments. I remember the joy I felt when I saw it and knew I was about to keep it. These objects became part of my journals, and almost every page as you flip through any one of my books, you’d see a flower and the stains it has left behind on the pages. That is what makes my journals unique to me, as every journal is a unique reflection of its keeper.
Perennials is comprised of three different elements: wooden books, a suite of cyanotypes, and large prints. Inside the wooden books are excerpts from my personal collection of flowers accompanied by diary entries and short stories to make them more accessible to the viewer. The books work as a way to delve deeper into the collection and understand how it has been kept over the years as well as its personal relation to the collector. The first book covers how the flowers have altered the books they have been kept in over several years of moulding. As you flip through, you notice the mould altering the pages where a peony lived for many years. An autobiographical short story written by Genevieve Smith touches on topics of renewal and repurpose.
The second book comprises of my clover collection and ideas surrounding luck. The clover collection is also accompanied by a short story written about the time the clovers had been found. The story also touches on themes of grief and how luck, for me, does not exist. The third book takes more of a diaristic approach, with no specific lineage of events, but instead, diary entries from the span of my books and the flowers kept inside.
The cyanotypes within this work function as a direct reference to the work of one of the world’s first female photographers, Anna Atkins. By making these cyanotypes by hand and with my own flower collection, involving my own hands in the images, I link these cyanotypes to my own role as an artist within our contemporary society.
The notions of the diary reflect in the books strongly connect to the last part of the project. The project resolves through large prints of historical paintings which have been altered by the flowers I have pressed on top of them. When pressing large peonies that I had been gifted, I searched for one of the heaviest books I could find, which ended up being a book that contained many images of paintings from the Louvré in France. By chance, these images over time began to clothe women who had been portrayed within historical paintings. These images developed by themselves, and in a way ironically assert myself as a collector and artist into the timeline of a male-dominated art history.