Date:19 July, 2021
“In the hope of reaching the moon men fail to see the flowers that blossom at their feet.”
– Albert Schweitzer
This series of mixed medium paintings of blooms evolved from a desire to explore the practices of Dutch Masters who painted florals in the 16th century. Initially Berlein was more interested in understanding their technique of Grisaille than the subject matter, but the more she delved the more enchanted she became with the blooms. The artist was led by the emotions these art works inspired in her.
Berlein comments, “Winter was fast approaching and the light becoming brittle and I began taking elements from these Dutch flower paintings and painting them myself, pulling spring and colour and cheer into my studio. I had to find more and in searching for inspiration and references, I looked at wedding bouquets and Victorian seed packets and flowers started to bloom on the canvases in my studio.”
Berlein soon became aware that she was more invested in the sensory experience the visitor would encounter. For us all to endure so many months of restrictions and to be constantly in proximity to disease the artist was easily motivated to break free from this and offer some hope, which often flowers in Spring elicit and after the hibernation of winter.
“Right now I think, the world need to stop and consider the flowers, – in getting lost in the horrors of this time, it is easy to forget the beauty that is all around us.”
By choosing to study a genre from 400 hundred years other meaning in different periods of history also inspired and an unravelling of significance started which inspired. As in Ancient Rome, brides carried and wore flowers to signify new beginnings and hopes of lasting love and fertility. In the middle ages, strong smelling herbs, flowers and spices were carried to ward off bad luck and ill health, and then Queen Victoria in 1840 popularised the tradition by carrying a tussie-mussie at her wedding.”
The inclusion of stitching on to these works not only aesthetically provides a bridge to additional dimensions of time but is further more symbolic of the suturing of wounds, and the loose threads that hang from the work, indicative of the hope that there is always room to stitch and help wounds to heal, if only we take the needle, prick the conscience and begin to stitch.
Our exhibition opens in the middle of spring and whilst and exhibition of flowers in spring may in recent times have been considered obvious this also signifies another important message the artist retorts in this series of works. How vital and necessary past denotations are in today’s times and in turn the need for simplicity of meaning. Pairing down to the basic essences of the technique also liberated the sense of what the works would mean. By distilling the past and extracting the beauty the artist may have produced a tonic for our times, a single message of hope in the form of beauty.