WONDER WOMAN // Vivien Hollingsworth, floral artist

Yes! Journal

WONDER WOMAN // Vivien Hollingsworth, floral artist

Vivien Hollingsworth is a Wonder Woman.

With a background in Fine Arts and an ongoing artistic practice, Vivien took the plunge last year to open her own Melbourne based floral studio, Flos Botanical.

Celebrating the local landscape through her use of seasonal blooms that she transforms into artisan arrangements, Vivien's work is typically large scale and always bespoke.

It is these two characteristics, 'large scale' and 'bespoke', that were exactly what we wanted to convey when we came up with the idea to create a Winter Solstice themed installation in our Therry Street Pop Up Store.

As it happened, serendipity facilitated the dream. Already an existing Radical Yes! customer, the whole project was conceived after a chance conversation we had with Vivien in the store. Inspired to fill the space with a huge volume of foraged greenery, we asked Vivien a few questions about her work and the project.

We think the results are magical and absolutely radical, yes!

You made the decision earlier this year to go out on your own and launched your studio Flos Botanical. What has been the best thing about going out on your own? What have you found the most challenging?

I formally named and gave a face to my floral adventures in November last year. I have been so lucky to have worked with some of Melbourne's best florists and learnt from some truly talented and generous designers. Working for myself has meant that I have been able to take this knowledge and use it to explore my own style and designs. 

The creative freedom I have gained from having my own studio has been incredibly rewarding. Being able to pitch and realise my own designs has to be the best part of working for myself. I have been super lucky to work on some great collaborations with amazing people who have been incredibly supportive and allowed me to just do my thing. 

One of the more changelling aspects of running your own studio is being able to maintain a strong sense of self. I have tried really hard to cultivate my own style and when you work in such a fast paced environment there is potential to see that side of your creativity being left behind. 

You have a FIne Arts background. From the meetings we had to produce the installation at the pop up shop, we felt a sense your approach was definitely large scale and always sculptural in terms of executing the work. How do you think your Art studies have influenced your Floristry practice?

While I was studying and more active in my fine art practice I worked a lot with large-scale installations. My work dealt with specific sites, natural landscape and the historical and cultural relationship with our natural landscape. It was this exploration that lead me to floristry and informs my style. 

I aim for my work to be immersive and emotive, creating a space to be experienced rather than traditional ornamental floristry. I also feel that this background informs my material choices. I like considering the specimens historical and cultural context and what this will bring to a composition. 

Tell us about your creative process. Do you have any work rituals or habits you follow?

Floristry as a trade has a rhythm built into it that I really thrive on. The first half of the week I do bookwork, designing, and ordering. On Thursdays I head to the market around 3am and collect and buy for my jobs that week. I really love going to the market and I find all the characters you meet there really energising. I love seeing all the surprising and seasonal blooms as they start coming in with each season.

As well as my day to day routines I also regularly head out of town. I have family in Gippsland and the Dandenongs so I am especially attached to those regions and try to go to both at least once a season to see the landscape change.

For this brief we had you venturing off into the woods to forage materials for our Winter Solstice installation. Do you prefer to source your materials 'in situ' or from the flower markets. In what ways do you think the sourcing process affects the project outcomes?

It really depends on the projects. For this particular installation, to realise the scale I was after I needed material that I couldn't source form the market. The volume and variety that really impact this work can only be source in situ. I really enjoy the process of gathering for a project. Handling the branches and stems from when they are first picked means I become familiar with them and can begin to imagine how I will work them into the composition.

 

Tell us three things you always say YES to.

Naps

Tea

Field trips

What does being 'radical' mean to you?

Not being scared to break conventions.

Thank you to Vivien for her amazing work and to Samee Lapham for documenting the process.

Images by Samee Lapham

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