Flowers in Rome

Rome inspiration: In Italy for the Arte Laguna prize, Gisborne florist Holly Tong and photographer Runa Kuru visited Rome where they began to create a new work based at a 17th century fountain in the Piazza Navona. Picture supplied


Volucris in Venice: The huge photograph on the wall behind Gisborne florist Holly Tong and photographer Runa Kuru is the pair’s contender for the Arte Laguna prize held in Venice. Called Volucris, the work was a finalist in the awards event. Picture supplied

When in Rome do as the Romans do, as they say.

Unless you’re from Gisborne.

Selected as finalists for contemporary art competition, the Arte Laguna prize, florist Holly Tong and photographer Runa Kuru attended the international event in Venice. Their work Volucris was a contender for the Arte Laguna prize event held in the Arsenale di Venezi, a site that was once a massive, canal-side arsenal.

The creation of Volucris was inspired by the still life genre that emerged during the Dutch and Flemish Renaissance in the 16th century. While the high definition, 1650 x 1100 photograph that depicts a tangle of living and fading flowers merging with blackness was not among the winning entries, Tong and Iceland-born Kuru’s experience was gold.

“It was amazing,” says Tong.

“You get overwhelmed, there are so many beautiful things there,” says Kuru.

“My senses were saturated.”

While in Italy, the pair took the opportunity to visit Milan, Bologna and Rome where they put together raw materials for a new work. At Campo de’ Fiori (“an Italian field of flowers”) where a daily produce market is held the pair collected an assortment of flowers and artichokes.

Back at their Airbnb accommodation they arranged the collection and took them to the ancient city’s Piazza Navona, home to 17th century sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the Four Rivers).

“We took the flowers to the piazza the next morning at dawn — hence the lack of people,” says Tong.

“This meant capturing the photos in that gorgeous morning light. We took pictures on the pavement of our fabric and flowers and we put the flowers into the fountain to get some water-based photographs.”

Now back in Gisborne they will develop the work (to coin a phrase).

When in Rome do as the Romans do, as they say.

Unless you’re from Gisborne.

Selected as finalists for contemporary art competition, the Arte Laguna prize, florist Holly Tong and photographer Runa Kuru attended the international event in Venice. Their work Volucris was a contender for the Arte Laguna prize event held in the Arsenale di Venezi, a site that was once a massive, canal-side arsenal.

The creation of Volucris was inspired by the still life genre that emerged during the Dutch and Flemish Renaissance in the 16th century. While the high definition, 1650 x 1100 photograph that depicts a tangle of living and fading flowers merging with blackness was not among the winning entries, Tong and Iceland-born Kuru’s experience was gold.

“It was amazing,” says Tong.

“You get overwhelmed, there are so many beautiful things there,” says Kuru.

“My senses were saturated.”

While in Italy, the pair took the opportunity to visit Milan, Bologna and Rome where they put together raw materials for a new work. At Campo de’ Fiori (“an Italian field of flowers”) where a daily produce market is held the pair collected an assortment of flowers and artichokes.

Back at their Airbnb accommodation they arranged the collection and took them to the ancient city’s Piazza Navona, home to 17th century sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the Four Rivers).

“We took the flowers to the piazza the next morning at dawn — hence the lack of people,” says Tong.

“This meant capturing the photos in that gorgeous morning light. We took pictures on the pavement of our fabric and flowers and we put the flowers into the fountain to get some water-based photographs.”

Now back in Gisborne they will develop the work (to coin a phrase).

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