We are all born knowing we are perfectly beautiful, an innocence that deserts us sometime in childhood. And so we strive for the ideal. We compare. We judge. We despair. But what if we could re-learn to accept imperfection as real beauty?
I’ve always loved flowers – they are my constant yet ever-changing muse. As an art photographer who also worked in the milieu of glossy magazines, I became obsessed with finding the ‘perfect’ vessel to team with the ‘perfect’ arrangement. Then one day, a truth dawned. I uncoupled myself from this endless, fruitless search and began to capture reality.
In this body of work, I found the freedom to no longer peddle perfection. I embraced emerging decay: the maligned, blemished and slightly broken. I paired flowers gathered roadside – including dandelions and cowslip grass – with blooms from friends’ gardens, and displayed them in preloved vases found on eBay. The images were shot, not in a studio, but on a stairwell ledge amidst the comforting chaos of family life. I noted the time each image was captured. The decline in the blooms is not obvious or pitiful, but subtle and seductive.
And so (back to) The Question:
If we could live our lives backwards, would we? Would we choose innocence over wisdom – or are these two polar life-stages just one and the same? But what of that long stretch in the middle where, like a flower, we emerge, then blossom, peak, then fade? Although these floral portraits explore our notion of beauty, they have a simpler task: to bring a moment of aesthetic wonder to the everyday. Imperfect has not given me the perfect answer to the question of what real beauty is. But perhaps that’s the point.