Lisa Creagh

Lisa Creagh

The Instant Garden: Floriculture and Flower Painting

"They wove birds with splendidly coloured wings on to silken trees and rivers and blossom-covered branches. And they would throw their carpets to the ground, creating a garden in the desert.”  Robert Fisk: Our need for beauty in the midst of war. Independent Newspaper, Saturday, 12 May 2007.

In the myth of Paradise, ‘nature’ is an all-encompassing garden until humans disobey its rules. In this project, all the flowers featured are generic, shop-bought, hothouse-bred varieties, prized for their perfection.  Just as the shop bought flower is the outcome of an enhanced and controlled genetic breeding program, so is this ‘garden’ of flowers hopes to create a new kind of ‘instant’, no less beautiful for being artificial.

My starting point was the Dutch Flower Paintings in room 17a of the National Gallery. Each vase of flowers is an elaborate construction, created out of studies spanning seasons and continents. Painting The Republic centred around Guilds rather than Academies, aspiring to the status of ‘über-craft’ rather than ‘fine art’. This helps to account for the obsessive attention to detail paid to such a ‘trivial’ subject.

The final image is a product of a slow, ponderous process of assembling ‘pieces’, creating patterns.  One of the paradoxes of digital imaging is that the process of constructing images is very ‘hand-made’. Hovering somewhere between the instantaneousness of the traditionally ‘photographic’ and the illusion-making ‘über-craft’ of flower-painting, this work attempts to bridge the ‘hand-made’ elements of traditional floral crafts with the evolving technology of digital imaging.  

Lisa Creagh was born in Coventry in 1972. She founded the Brighton Photo Fringe and her street installation, Tidy Street won local acclaim in 2006. Having studied Fine Art and Art History at Goldsmiths College she has centred her art practice around the relationships between photography, painting and drawing. This new body of work uses Dutch Flower Painting of the Republic as a starting point for looking at the role of photography outside of its normal narrative sphere. Using extensive digital imaging she suggests new ways this technology may connect photography with ancient pattern and decorative traditions.


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