#7 Floral FreedomInterview

A sea of
     colour

and emotions

Sensual and tactile, Craig Waddell’s artwork celebrates both the sublime and the imperfect of nature. Laying down layers of paint, while intuïtively colouring, building and changing Craig destroys, renews and resurrects, until his gripping flowers are the most beautiful thing you’ve ever laid eyes on_______.

What’s your earliest memory of flowers?

Craig: “My earliest memories of flowers was on my grandparents fruit farm in Galston, NorthSouthWales. I remember seeing the orchard in full bloom, beautiful pale pinks, deep reds and whites, it was like seeing a sea of colour as far as the eye could see. My father would prune the blossoms and tie them up in bundles to get them ready to sell at the market. I remember the old concrete shed floor being full of these intricate little petals and all that glorious colour.”

When did you last buy someone flowers?

“The last person I bought flowers for was my beautiful wife, we share a love of peonies and when the season comes we try to fill our house with every colour available. Peonies are the first flowers I gave her when we met and they symbolise our strong love for each other.”

Cast of plants

Poppy’s
Peonies
Delphinium
Daisy
Buttercup
Roses
Passionflora

“I REMEMBER SEEING THE ORCHARD IN FULL BLOOM, BEAUTIFUL PALE PINKS, DEEP REDS AND WHITES, IT WAS LIKE SEEING A SEA OF COLOUR_______.”

What’s your earliest memory of flowers?

Craig: “My earliest memories of flowers was on my grandparents fruit farm in Galston, NorthSouthWales. I remember seeing the orchard in full bloom, beautiful pale pinks, deep reds and whites, it was like seeing a sea of colour as far as the eye could see. My father would prune the blossoms and tie them up in bundles to get them ready to sell at the market. I remember the old concrete shed floor being full of these intricate little petals and all that glorious colour.”

When did you last buy someone flowers?

“The last person I bought flowers for was my beautiful wife, we share a love of peonies and when the season comes we try to fill our house with every colour available. Peonies are the first flowers I gave her when we met and they symbolise our strong love for each other.”

What’s your most romantic memory of roses?

“My most romantic memory of roses was strangely watching my grandfather grow his garden roses at the front of the farm. He took extra care of these roses as he grew them especially for my grandmother, to express his love for her. He always told me that sometimes an action speaks louder than words, a very romantic old farmer he was!”

I’m in love with flowers since....

“I’m in love with flowers since the passing of my dearest friend. At the time my studio was on a rose farm North West of Sydney, I was surrounded by nature in all its beauty but until this time I never stopped to look at the passing of seasons and rebirth of nature. That rose farm changed my life forever, I started to draw from nature every day and would race to the studio to paint my memories and feelings out in my work. I couldn’t physically speak to my friend but I understood that painting was my language and means to communicate. I have never looked back and have the burning desire to express my feelings around love, loss and longing with the world through my art.”

“I REMEMBER SEEING THE ORCHARD IN FULL BLOOM, BEAUTIFUL PALE PINKS, DEEP REDS AND WHITES, IT WAS LIKE SEEING A SEA OF COLOUR_______.”

What’s your most romantic memory of roses?

“My most romantic memory of roses was strangely watching my grandfather grow his garden roses at the front of the farm. He took extra care of these roses as he grew them especially for my grandmother, to express his love for her. He always told me that sometimes an action speaks louder than words, a very romantic old farmer he was!”

I’m in love with flowers since....

“I’m in love with flowers since the passing of my dearest friend. At the time my studio was on a rose farm North West of Sydney, I was surrounded by nature in all its beauty but until this time I never stopped to look at the passing of seasons and rebirth of nature. That rose farm changed my life forever, I started to draw from nature every day and would race to the studio to paint my memories and feelings out in my work. I couldn’t physically speak to my friend but I understood that painting was my language and means to communicate. I have never looked back and have the burning desire to express my feelings around love, loss and longing with the world through my art.”

Why do you think flowers are sensual?

“When I see the fleshy tones of pinks, reds and whites I want to paint flowers the same way some artists approach the figure. I get lost in the lush fleshy tones of flowers and it creates the desire and passion to paint in what some have described as having sexual overtones. I think of the flowers as having the body and tone of human flesh, the curves the fragility and the strength of people.”

When I paint flowers I feel...

“I feel when I paint flowers something else lies behind the image, they are not flowers more a representation of feelings and emotions that flood onto a canvas.”

Did you ever dream about flowers?

“Last night I dreamt of my wife’s head floating in a field of flowers, this has become the inspiration for a new series of flower paintings. I couldn’t imagine a day without flowers in our life, and they are a constant source of inspiration.”

What’s your favourite flower spot?

“I love going to the flower markets in the early hours of the morning, being intoxicated by the smells, colour and the chaotic frenzy of all the florists. I find this is a magical way to start my day and will race back to the studio with a van full of flowers to paint.”

“SURROUNDED BY NATURE I UNDERSTOOD THAT PAINTING WAS MY LANGUAGE AND MEANS TO COMMUNICATE_______.”

Why do you think flowers are sensual?

“When I see the fleshy tones of pinks, reds and whites I want to paint flowers the same way some artists approach the figure. I get lost in the lush fleshy tones of flowers and it creates the desire and passion to paint in what some have described as having sexual overtones. I think of the flowers as having the body and tone of human flesh, the curves the fragility and the strength of people.”

When I paint flowers I feel...

“I feel when I paint flowers something else lies behind the image, they are not flowers more a representation of feelings and emotions that flood onto a canvas.”

Did you ever dream about flowers?

“Last night I dreamt of my wife’s head floating in a field of flowers, this has become the inspiration for a new series of flower paintings. I couldn’t imagine a day without flowers in our life, and they are a constant source of inspiration.”

What’s your favourite flower spot?

“I love going to the flower markets in the early hours of the morning, being intoxicated by the smells, colour and the chaotic frenzy of all the florists. I find this is a magical way to start my day and will race back to the studio with a van full of flowers to paint.”

What are your thoughts about flowers and decay?

“Flowers will fill my studio for days, weeks and sometimes months at a time. I love painting flowers as they bloom right through to decay. I love the change in colours and the slow transformation from life to death. I have started to build arrangements with skulls and heads that I sculpt floating amongst flowers.”

Without flowers life would...

“Never be the same. I crave influences from many cultures that use flowers within their daily rituals and ceremonies. Having lived and studied in Thailand I have observed the many different meanings behind flowers being used as offerings and to remind us of our own mortality.”

What do flowers mean to you?

“I have also spent a lot of time in Mexico recently and been heavily influenced by the wreaths that are created for ceremonies. The wreaths will often have skulls immersed in flower arrangements and celebrate the day of the dead. I enjoy that this is a celebration of death, like it’s somehow beautiful. I enjoy the way flowers are used to remind us of all the beauty in the world.”

Text
Rosanne Loffeld

Photography
Craig Waddell

A selection from Craig Waddel’s timeline, @craigwaddellartist