Shot by Metz + Racine
Shot by Metz + Racine
Shot by Metz + Racine
The word “daisy” is unique to the English language, and rarely so, in an otherwise cross-fertilised etymological landscape. It hails from the Old English “dæges ēage” which directly translates as “day’s eye”: a prosaic reflection of the daisy’s slow blink from dawn-to-dusk. Across both the natural and human worlds, these diurnal rhythms persist – shaping our habits and health, informing our sense of time, seasonality, even productivity.
Indeed, the simple proposition of a day’s work was fundamental to the realisation of Metz + Racine’s book, Flowers Together pt 2. Conceived as a series of one-day shoots over the course of three years, Metz + Racine welcomed thirteen new collaborators into their studio, and in turn, together onto the printed page. Whilst for Flowers Together pt 1 Metz + Racine set out with their closest, longtime collaborators, here, the premise was the promise of the unknown. All previously unacquainted to Metz + Racine, these assembled talents encompass set designers, ceramicists, art buyers and stylists, each approached with the simple proposition of ‘flowers’. And when so generous an open-brief as this arises– uncoupled from the usual expectations of process and outcome – the results are precious.
For two decades of a career steeped in the intricacies of
still life, Metz + Racine had somehow circumvented the floral genre, until the advent of Flowers Together Pt 1, in 2018. Now, for the second time, we encounter a celebration of a genre far too often overlooked — whether under misguided notions of the floral as ‘feminine’, staid, or even cautious. For, as long as flowers have been given visual representation they have been tested: underwritten with moral and religious codes, weighted with spiritual and mythological iconography, or cloaked with the semiotics of everyday life. And here, through the force of collective endeavour, Metz + Racine counter the stigma once and for all.
From coiled rope flowerheads to polystyrene thorns, Metz + Racine’s book yields as many new floral species as seeds scattered amongst their collaborators. Backlit against sunshine yellow blinds, almost clinical in appearance, Scarlet Winter presents sculptural arrangements of medicinal plants – silhouettes of healing. Yasmina Kurunis’s balloon-sculpted blooms, meanwhile, are as comical as they are unsettling – squeezed, squeaking into the corner of a metallic lift, or fit to burst out of the page in luridlilac and turquoise. Camilla Wordie’s suspended stems murmur the idiom of English hedgerows and allotments: a spray of elderberries held in balance with a single
acorn and a white dahlia. In similar reverence, Holly Hay’s black-and-white forms recall the canon of botanical masters, though are in fact sourced from the supermarket aisle. Whilst in another monochrome realm, ceramistNoe Kuremoto and florist Wagner Kreusch together conjure a milky way of planetary orbits; an unstoppable whirlwind of forces through foliage.
Spiralling out from this otherworldly landscape, the interpretation of the floral shows no bounds. Pages flutter and hum from the pastoral to the industrial to the futuristic. Nothing was predetermined – intuition had to be balanced with vision, creative authorship with trust, with the sole guiding principle: the image. Jacki Castelli’s mass of flowerheads and foliage, shot through a giant water tank, plunge the viewer into a tricolour underwater forest, all sense of scale and depth untethered. One peaceful day in the studio was led by designer Alexandra Leavey, who produced a series of ethereal botanical drawings, photographed with wild flowers. Then there was the memorably cold morning on the Hackney marshes, photographing Jess Morgan’s sculptures made from recycled perspex.
Tripping on the breeze as a chorus of individual voices, Flowers Together is a lesson in creative partnership– a gentle reminder to reach beyond one’s own circle, into uncharted territory. It is a vignette of its time: a moment when the world edged out of the pandemic into other troubled waters, and perhaps as such, Pt 2 reveals a more subdued, pensive mood than its earlier counterpart.
Yet for all its formal rigour, Flowers Together is not simply an object of visual complexity and printed beauty. “Flowers Together” is both noun and verb. It is both the object of our attention – a harvest of ripe blooms, a gathering of stems, a posey of flowerheads. And crucially also an action. It poses the question of what might flourish when a clearing is made for common ground.
When divergent creative voices, stances and tendencies are afforded the space to germinate in the same patch. And the answer is a hopeful one: they flower together.
Words by Louise Long