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The Slow Flower movement explained by PYRUS, the botanical studio calling for a Flower Revolution
The duo Natalya Ayers & Fiona Inglis reveals the behind the scenes of his work straddling ephemerality and permanence
Portrait of Natalya Ayers and Fiona Inglis, the two founders of the flower design studio PYRUS. Photo courtesy PYRIS © Gabriela Silveira
Natalya Ayers and Fiona Inglis established the botanical studio PYRUS back in 2011, near Edinburgh (Scotland), after finding out that they both shared a passion for British grown flowers. Active supporters of the slow flower movement - which has burgeoned across the UK in recent years - the two designers wish to profoundly change the British floral industry by championing only seasonal and local blooms. We dived into their universe to learn more about the principles and dreams that drive their practice.
A sculptural installation for the Woodside Warehouse in Glasgow. Photo courtesy of PYRUS © Gabriela Silveira
The world needs “nothing less than a flower revolution”, affirm Ayers and Inglis, who condemn the hunt for perfection fuelled by the Dutch flower industry. Instead, the duo prefers to search for “characterful flowers with unique movement in their bendy stems, filled with delicate perfume”. And to “support other growers”, thus hoping to stimulate “systemic change within the industry over time” and ultimately help the environment.
Consumers are slowly starting to look for local blooms, “the same way they look for local food products or artisans”, underline Ayers and Inglis. But despite the little encouraging signs the duo cannot help noticing that there is still “a long way to go!”.
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Left: “The Circle Stick”, a minimal installation developed in 2015; Right: A suspended sculpture for the Biscuit Factory. Photos courtesy PYRUS © Gabriela Silveira
At the root of this commitment is the fulfilling quest to reconnect with nature; An approach that pushed them to develop their own Victorian flower garden. Situated close to Edinburgh, the three-acre plot serves as a laboratory where the duo grows a large variety of unusual crops.
Since 2015, PYRUS has undertaken to recreate a self-sufficient Victorian walled flower garden in Edinburgh, Scotland. Photo courtesy PYRUS © Nice Rue
This is “an enormous challenge but one which we welcome”, emphasise the pair. Ayers and Inglis are, in fact, convinced that following the journey from seed to bloom is fundamental to their creative practice.
Why so? Simply because “growing most of our flowers ourselves means that we have a deep connection to the materials we use and enables us to use elements from each stage of the growing cycle: seedlings, flowers, dying plant matter and root systems. It is a slow but rewarding process to learn about the history of the space, the soil and growing conditions. Being artists means that we do not have classical horticultural training, so there is always a great deal to learn, but that is part of the appeal."
A floral installation playing with the ephemerality of both ruins and flowers, one of PYRUS’ leitmotif. Photo courtesy PYRUS © Bethany Grace
Thanks to the freedom that their backgrounds in fine and applied arts give them, Ayers and Inglis value the use of natural materials that are generally overlooked or avoided by flower designers - such as weeds and stumps, but also dead bees and taxidermy bird wings.
“For us, combining flowers with other elements presents more opportunity to make interesting pieces. Each project has a different brief but the starting point is always our garden and the living landscape around us. We are drawn to sculptural forms and textures; root systems, in particular, have always fascinated us. Lately, we have become interested in fungi and the symbiotic relationships they have with plants”, they reveal.
A delicate floral installation featuring locally sourced wild flowers. Photo courtesy PYRUS © Caro Weiss
Focusing on smell, seasonal shapes and colors, PYRUS’ flower installations question all the norms that the flower industry has shaped and imposed over the past decades - above all the subjective notions of beauty and perfection. Their latest project at 13 Floral Street, Covent Garden (London), entitled “Consummation” well expresses their preoccupations.
Immortalised by photographer Gabriela Silveira, the “Consummation” series was presented at the Rakes Progress pop up, 13 Floral Street, (Covent Garden, London) in 2017. Photo courtesy PYRUS © Gabriela Silveira
Inspired by the Japanese art of Ikebana - that traditionally explores the animosity between ephemerality and permanence, death and life - the series of artworks “Consummation” is characterised by the melancholic burning of floral compositions. “We approached the series with simplicity, to allow the power of burning flowers to be conveyed through the images”, explain the designers. Adding that: “there is so much beauty to be found in decay and the death of a flower is just part of its life cycle. These are themes that we have only just begun to touch on in our work and there is so much more to explore".
A botanical and sculptural installation focusing on texture and shape. Photo courtesy PYRUS © Bethany Grace
Having opened up the door to the unexpected with “Consummation”, Ayers and Inglis now predict the general rise of surrealism within the world of botanical design, along with “utopian visions combining the real and the imaginary”. And they assure that the growing desire for houseplants to fulfill our “need for a little calmness” is a trend that “won’t show any signs of abating this year”.
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