Made In England
Carpet of flowers
If you were asked to brighten up Manchester's Albert Square, what would you do? Fine art lecturer Jo Vickers has created a giant carpet of flowers in an artistic nod to the city's Cottonopolis past. We asked her about her floral creation:
In Bloom: carpet of flowers
First of all, describe your design...
"What we see when we look at the carpet is this enormous 900m of turf covered in pink flowers. And basically, the pattern runs out as you go closer to the rolled up end of the carpet. And it’s meant to be a bit like a production line running out or a textile print process."
What was your inspiration?
"I wanted to fill Albert Square with flowers and I wanted to do something relevant for Manchester and there’s a tradition for flower carpets in Europe. But theyr’e quite formal and they’re usually things like the coat of arms of the city and such like. So I wanted to do something which was much more innovative and about living in the city and reflecting its history. So this is a damask pattern that relates to the textile industry."
Wow! Jo Vickers looks at her creation
How many flowers have you used?
"It’s really difficult to say exactly how many but it’s about 60,000. They’re Anastasia chrysanthemums with a few cerise gerbera to pick out the edge. They’re actually grown white – we have a crop grown for us. These are the cheapest flowers you can get that look stunning and last five days out of water. It’s basically a white flower which is then dip died in beetroot dye.
"One of the really magical things about this – and it’s a bit of a secret but I’ll let you in on it – is that this will go white. So the pink pattern on green will turn white on green if we have torrential rain! I thought if I’m working in Manchester you’ve got to make rain an asset! I’m actually watering them every night."
I believe you had quite a lot of help..
"I had about 60 volunteers a day and we did it in two days - so, fantastically quick. And they were brilliant – there were lots of volunteers who were resident in Manchester; some younger people; some older people; some French visitors came and did a lot of work on it; some artists and art students got involved as well. It’s been brilliant – a really fun thing to do."
The pattern runs out
And how did you transpose your original design onto such a huge 'canvas?'
"It’s something I really like doing, doing really tiny drawings the size of your hand and them blowing them up to a huge scale. It’s the same for gardens or floristry or public art work – why have one planter of flowers when you can fill the whole square with flowers? It’s much more like a field. I think this is a very visual experience."
There's a viewing platform - what was your first impression when you came up?
"It was amazing because I thought – Oh it works! I’ve been looking at it from the town hall windows over the two days. I think it’s really worth going up on the viewing platform. On the ground level, you can see the flowers and you think: that’s something interesting going on, mysterious.. maybe a map or something. But when you come up the stairs and you see it for the first time, the colour is shocking and the design, there’s a surprise element in it. So I’d recommend it."
The Carpet of Flowers was created by Jo Vickers, Senior Lecturer in Fine Art at Manchester Met University as part of Manchester in Bloom.
It's on show in Albert Square until dusk on Sunday 20th July 2008. Free to view at ground level; £1 donation to go on the viewing platform.
last updated: 18/07/2008 at 09:37