The best Chelsea Flower Show-inspired exhibitions

Floral artworks and installations are springing up across London

Emma Bass, ‘The GFC (Great Floral Crisis)’, 2017. Image courtesy of the artist and the Daniel Raphael Gallery

This month, London is blooming with botanical exhibitions to celebrate the Chelsea Flower Show, from floral artworks by emerging and established contemporary artists to installations designed to bring nature into communal areas and champion charitable causes.  

At the Daniel Raphael Gallery in Marylebone, the ‘Anthophile’ exhibition (15 to 31 May) will explore the symbolism inherent in floral art, which can raise questions about mortality, materialism and spirituality. The group show encompasses work by 11 artists spanning various disciplines and perspectives, from the mixed-media approach of Julie Cockburn, who decorates existing paintings with inexpensive materials, to Tracey Emin’s still-life painting on newsprint, Caroline Mizrahi’s Japanese-influenced creations and Emma Bass’ hyper-real, brightly coloured photographs. 

Carolina Mizrahi, ‘Ikebana Tropical 05’, 2017. Image courtesy of the artist and the Daniel Raphael Gallery

Elsewhere, the exhibition ‘Natural Selection: New Botanical Collages’ is being held at Mayfair’s Lyndsey Ingram Gallery (10 May to 15 June). This solo show of Jane Hammond’s work delves into the history of flower painting and traditional botanical prints. Hammond’s collages are crafted through a combination of painting, photography, found objects and digital imagery – a multimedia approach the artist describes as “foraging”, comparable to making a flower arrangement. In her Champagne Bucket with Black Fritillaria, for example, she uses lithography, digital printing, coloured pencils, sumi ink and watercolour.

Jane Hammond, ‘Champagne Bucket with Black Fritillaria, Cockscomb and Rafflesia’, 2017. Courtesy of the artist and Lyndsey Ingram Gallery 

Among the floral installations appearing across the capital is Anna Garforth’s Meadow, on show at Pullman London St Pancras. Part of the hotel’s cultural initiative ‘Artist’s Playground by Pullman’, which supports local creatives working in contemporary art and design, the collaboration sees Garforth create an upside-down meadow comprising hundreds of wild oats, grasses, thistles and florals. The installation is inspired by the location’s previous green landscape (during the 17th and 18th centuries, the area between King’s Cross and Marylebone was agricultural).

Anna Garforth’s ‘Meadow’ installation. Photograph: Marcus Peel

Visitors to Covent Garden are also invited to reconnect with nature in an urban landscape, as the neighbourhood is turned into the biggest outdoor floral art gallery in London. Look out for Moments of Reflection, situated on the East Piazza, where you will find a variety of British flowers, fruit-trees and herbs sourced from Bernhards Nurseries. Designed in support of Perennial Charity, which helps horticulturists during periods of poor climates, the pop-up botanical haven is well worth a visit.

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