Orchids are my favourite flowers because they remind me of my birthplace. This was in the southern part of the Philippines, where orchids grew in abundance, especially where nature was left undisturbed by human activities. I remember memorising all their local names, as every neighbour seemed to be growing one.
This sounds morbid, but I actually learned flower making using paper at the time when my grandmother died. Looking back now, it remains a powerful memory for me. She died suddenly from a myocardial infarction, so there were no goodbyes. I remember how caring and loving she was – you simply got bathed with her love when you were around her.
There was a wake at home and so many people were present everyday (strangers, friends and family). Prayers were said non-stop and sometimes, there was religious singing. There were so many candles. But the one thing I remember, to this day, was how one of the ladies who prayed the ‘novenas’ (holy rosary) showed me how to ‘fold’ a rose using just crepe paper. Whilst they were praying for my grandma, you heard the rustle of paper from so many pairs of hands making paper flowers. We then managed to make whole bouquets. It struck me how beautiful and thoughtful it was – fashioning something with your hands and then offering it to someone so loved.
On hindsight, I realised why the ladies used crepe paper, in addition to real flowers. Real flowers were too expensive and they wilted way before the burial ceremony. As their intention was to fill the whole house with flowers, it was an aesthetically practical solution. It meant my grandma could have all the colours you could think of!
The piece above was actually a second version. I decided to use a different background. I have managed to photograph it, as it looks in real-life (i.e., this particular shade of purple). It reminds me of purple yam. The paper is from Bhutan and has accidental dimples and is not smooth. I like it because it has lots of character. And I like the way the contrast has worked out.
For Wild Wonder, my first version was on a yellow background (again, with the same type of paper). Here it was before framing and glazing.