Last week, I had the absolute pleasure of exhibiting at the RHS Tatton Flower Show with my floral installation ‘A Sense of Change’. I remember getting the email back in May and being so shocked that I had been accepted. Last year, I went as a visitor and made the bold statement that I would be there in 2023 as an exhibitor. What an absolute dream come true to have made that happen!
The process of creating the installation took many weeks of hard work and planning. The structure was a 1.75m x 1.75m cube which would house a wooden bench and be filled with a beautiful meadow of British flowers. Completed with a hanging rack which would hold flowers out of water to dry naturally. It took a small team to erect the structure and a little more time than intended as the ground we were on at the show was on quite a large slant. However, with the expertise of my father in law and brother in law, we created the wooden frame.
It is really important to double, triple check any kind of structures with someone who understands the processes. I fully hold my hands up to say I was a little naive in thinking a cube would be an easy structure to create. I can absolutely tell you that it is not! We got there in the end and I am so thankful to both Vernon and Andy for their hard work in helping get everything in place. A wonky, slanty ground was certainly not going to stop me creating. It just meant extra, hidden measures were needed to keep everything in place. A professional florist will always have sneaky tricks that nobody will ever know about to make things look perfect.
We were given 2 days before the show opened to set up for the floral installations. With the installation having to last from Tuesday evening until the Sunday evening, I made the decision to only flower on the Tuesday. Even with plans in place for the curation and the flowers, It was a little stressful that on the Monday we left early with only a basic structure in place. Meaning that the Tuesday would be a hectic day of finishing the build and flowering the whole installation.
The Tuesday was a 12 hour day butas soon as I could start flowering, I was in my absolute element. I knew exactly what I wanted the installation to look and feel like. Honestly, I can say that I am really pleased with the outcome. However, having somebody to help flower would have definely been beneficial. I haven’t felt so achy since I used to dance.
So, the Wednesday of RHS Tatton Flower Show is always press and members day. This is where you get to do lots of promoting, do interviews and get lots of attention onto your garden/display. As press can arrive as early as 7am, it is a really early start and you must make sure everything is done on the Tuesday evening so it’s all in place for Wednesday. I had absolutely no idea what to expect but it was such an incredible experience.
I spoke to so many people from different publications and people with huge interests in floristry and horticulture. The whole day was very busy and tiring but it was such an experience that I am so grateful for. To have people coming over to see my installation and talk to me about things because they were interested in my ethos and ideas. Some people even recognised me from Facebook or Instagram was just mindblowing and crazy. I never expected people to know who I was or even want to feature my work, so it was overwhelming but incredible.
I think the absolute highlight for me was being featured on the Friday 21st July episode of Gardeners World. Meeting Frances and the team was amazing. I am so honoured they featured my work and discussed my method of drying flowers. I have put a link to the episode at the bottom if anybody wants to take a look and see more on the show itself.
The theme for this years floral installations, and most of the show, was SENSORY. This could be taken in any way and the application stated the installations could be freeform. For me, sensory is a huge part of what I create with flowers so it seemed the perfect fit. There is nothing better than textures and scents in floral curations and I wanted to go with something that felt right to me, my garden-inspired approach and be something people could connect to.
The installation was a showcase of just how incredible flowers, and us as humans are. Celebrating our many forms and stages. It is a play on the cycle of our lives and the beautiful changes we encounter along the way. Allowing ourselves to blossom. Also realising that there is always beauty to be found in every stage of life, and the moments of change we often fear. It is showing how we can learn to adapt and understand changes. Plus, that we can always find a way to bloom if we use our senses.
The installation had a minimum of 80% of blooms that could be dried. The hanging installation held fresh flowers out of water that naturally dried over the course of the show. The flowers were the same flowers as those fresh blooms that surrounded the box. This was to show the beauty in the changes that happen if they are taken from one state to another.
The whole experience of exhibiting at RHS Tatton Flower show was hugely positive. Being still in a very early stage of my career in the floral industry, It was hugely beneficial. I very nearly talked myself out of applying through fear of rejection and because i’m not a great drawer so thought my doodle would be rejected instantly. I am so glad I talked myself in to submitting because it has been an amazing thing to do.
If anyone is considering applying to do a floral installation next year then I would say to consider why you want to do it and what you want to gain from doing it. The floral Installations sadly aren’t judged so you must have another reason to want to be there and show your work. For me personally, it was about connections and exposure. Those were my two reasons for wanting to be there. I’m a newer face in the floral industry and wanted to share my work with a wider audience. I’m also local to Tatton so knew I would be reaching people who I could potentially work with. I also wanted to create lasting connections with people in the industry too. Whether that was fellow floral curators, garden designers, journalists or botanical based businesses.
Exhibiting is a really hard process and the days can be very long and tiring so it’s something to bear in mind. The more you put in, the more you gain is what I took from it. The more you share on the run up, the thoughts you put into what you are creating and what you want people to see, think and feel make a huge difference.
Overall, I had the best time and it is something I will absolutely cherish forver. If anyone wants to ask anything or wants to talk more than please do pop me a message or an email. I would be more than happy to chat to you.
Lots of love,
Gardeners World Episode 17 – https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m001nxvf
Manchester Evening news feature – https://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/whats-on/family-kids-news/gallery/hidden-dinosaurs-stunning-blooms-frank-27356330
Northwich Guardian Feature – https://www.knutsfordguardian.co.uk/news/23672640.dancer-steps-rewarding-new-career-creative-florist/