Creating magic

WINTER WONDERS: Looking forward to their first outdoor floral art exhibition are Art in the Garden committee members, from left, Jane Weatherell, Janice Prebble, Bev Miller, Yvonne Fletcher, Rita Veenstra and Judy Taylor. Pictures by Rebecca Grunwell
ARTISTS AT WORK: Local floral artists at a willow weaving workshop.
‘Hayricks’ in Bev Miller’s garden, the product of a weekend workshop.

WHILE most people stoked up the fire and hibernated with books and other cosy indoor pursuits over the winter months, a group of hardy Gisborne women and their obliging husbands were out in all weathers with chainsaws and loppers, fossicking for materials to feed their passion for floral art.

This winter, the level of activity and fervour ratcheted up a notch or two with a special occasion on the horizon to prepare for.

Next weekend, the Gisborne East Coast Area Floral Art Society celebrates its 50th anniversary with a “floral extravaganza” entitled Art in the Garden in the grounds of the Bushmere Arms.

Society president Bev Miller says the exhibition will showcase the work of talented floral designers from three local clubs: Gisborne Floral Art Club, Te Hapara Floral Art and Garden Club and Wairoa Floral Art Group.

“So members have been busy gathering plant material during the winter and taking part in workshops to make structures to fill the beautiful gardens at Bushmere Arms,” says Bev, whose passion for the art of floral designing began 40 years ago.

“We’ve had a lot of fun collecting grapevine stumps, cuttings, bales of hay, kladdy sticks (stems from flax bushes), bamboo, nikau palm spathes and even old bottles, along with our supportive husbands who come along on our expeditions, armed with chainsaws, loppers and hammers.

“What would we do without the men to make just the right cut here and hammer a nail just there,” says Bev.

Now the garages and storage sheds strewn with plant material, stands, wire netting, hay and paint are emptying out as the floral artists reveal the fruits of months of winter workshops and expeditions.

“There are over 50 different creations including a major combined installation with hay balls called hay-walkers mounted on grape vine structures, things that people have never seen here before.

“This is a first for Gisborne,” says Bev who is heading the group of 40 Wairoa and Gisborne women on this first ever outdoor exhibition.

“We have done many indoor exhibitions but never tackled a major outdoor event like this which brings its own challenges.

“We’re really looking forward to presenting Gisborne with this exhibition in our 50th year of floral designing.

“We have created some magic for the public to enjoy.”

“However, it won’t be all work and no play. We will be celebrating with a dinner at Bushmere Arms on the Saturday evening with past, present and life members.”

The exhibition follows on from a successful event in the Lawson Field Theatre in 2014 titled West End to Broadway.

History of the society

The Gisborne East Coast Area Floral Art Society was established after founding member, the late Mrs Mary Laracy of Gisborne, travelled to Wellington to attend the first AGM of the newly-formed Floral Art Society of New Zealand in 1964 under the guidance of Eleanor Dobbs of Wellington.

A group of interested clubs in the Gisborne-Wairoa area was subsequently formed in September 1967.

The national membership today consists of 2029 members with 84 clubs and is headed by a management board, area representatives and education committee.

There are many qualified demonstrators, judges and teachers within the society and each year an international designer is invited to visit New Zealand to conduct demonstrations and workshops throughout the country.

“The Gisborne society is active in community work, creative weekends, workshops that extend members’ talents and educational programmes that lead to national qualifications.

“We also produce and print a diary, floral notelets and a magazine ‘Floral Focus’ which is produced three times annually.”

The society has three life members in this district — Lil Phelps who was also presented with the Muriel de Stefano Trophy in 2010 for services to our local area, Dot McCulloch, and Helen McKinnon formerly of Wairoa now living in Hawke’s Bay.

Bev says exciting times are ahead for New Zealand’s floral artists. It was announced at the last AGM in Blenheim that New Zealand had an overwhelming majority to host the World Association of Floral Artists World Show in 2023.

“The last time New Zealand hosted this event was in Wellington in 1996 so it’s highly exciting to look forward to another world show in this country,” says Bev.

• Art in the Garden is open from 10am to 4pm next Saturday and Sunday, October 28, 29. Gate sales only: $10 per person, children 12 and under are free. Refreshments available.

WHILE most people stoked up the fire and hibernated with books and other cosy indoor pursuits over the winter months, a group of hardy Gisborne women and their obliging husbands were out in all weathers with chainsaws and loppers, fossicking for materials to feed their passion for floral art.

This winter, the level of activity and fervour ratcheted up a notch or two with a special occasion on the horizon to prepare for.

Next weekend, the Gisborne East Coast Area Floral Art Society celebrates its 50th anniversary with a “floral extravaganza” entitled Art in the Garden in the grounds of the Bushmere Arms.

Society president Bev Miller says the exhibition will showcase the work of talented floral designers from three local clubs: Gisborne Floral Art Club, Te Hapara Floral Art and Garden Club and Wairoa Floral Art Group.

“So members have been busy gathering plant material during the winter and taking part in workshops to make structures to fill the beautiful gardens at Bushmere Arms,” says Bev, whose passion for the art of floral designing began 40 years ago.

“We’ve had a lot of fun collecting grapevine stumps, cuttings, bales of hay, kladdy sticks (stems from flax bushes), bamboo, nikau palm spathes and even old bottles, along with our supportive husbands who come along on our expeditions, armed with chainsaws, loppers and hammers.

“What would we do without the men to make just the right cut here and hammer a nail just there,” says Bev.

Now the garages and storage sheds strewn with plant material, stands, wire netting, hay and paint are emptying out as the floral artists reveal the fruits of months of winter workshops and expeditions.

“There are over 50 different creations including a major combined installation with hay balls called hay-walkers mounted on grape vine structures, things that people have never seen here before.

“This is a first for Gisborne,” says Bev who is heading the group of 40 Wairoa and Gisborne women on this first ever outdoor exhibition.

“We have done many indoor exhibitions but never tackled a major outdoor event like this which brings its own challenges.

“We’re really looking forward to presenting Gisborne with this exhibition in our 50th year of floral designing.

“We have created some magic for the public to enjoy.”

“However, it won’t be all work and no play. We will be celebrating with a dinner at Bushmere Arms on the Saturday evening with past, present and life members.”

The exhibition follows on from a successful event in the Lawson Field Theatre in 2014 titled West End to Broadway.

History of the society

The Gisborne East Coast Area Floral Art Society was established after founding member, the late Mrs Mary Laracy of Gisborne, travelled to Wellington to attend the first AGM of the newly-formed Floral Art Society of New Zealand in 1964 under the guidance of Eleanor Dobbs of Wellington.

A group of interested clubs in the Gisborne-Wairoa area was subsequently formed in September 1967.

The national membership today consists of 2029 members with 84 clubs and is headed by a management board, area representatives and education committee.

There are many qualified demonstrators, judges and teachers within the society and each year an international designer is invited to visit New Zealand to conduct demonstrations and workshops throughout the country.

“The Gisborne society is active in community work, creative weekends, workshops that extend members’ talents and educational programmes that lead to national qualifications.

“We also produce and print a diary, floral notelets and a magazine ‘Floral Focus’ which is produced three times annually.”

The society has three life members in this district — Lil Phelps who was also presented with the Muriel de Stefano Trophy in 2010 for services to our local area, Dot McCulloch, and Helen McKinnon formerly of Wairoa now living in Hawke’s Bay.

Bev says exciting times are ahead for New Zealand’s floral artists. It was announced at the last AGM in Blenheim that New Zealand had an overwhelming majority to host the World Association of Floral Artists World Show in 2023.

“The last time New Zealand hosted this event was in Wellington in 1996 so it’s highly exciting to look forward to another world show in this country,” says Bev.

• Art in the Garden is open from 10am to 4pm next Saturday and Sunday, October 28, 29. Gate sales only: $10 per person, children 12 and under are free. Refreshments available.

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