Flowers have a way of communicating when words fall short. Valley Of The Nightflower is a celebration of rebellious women, unusual flowers and beautiful, unconventional art. Perth artists Natasha Lea and Hayley Fieldes are our leading ladies, curating this conceptual group show in November at Linton & Kay Gallery.
The two met last year at “Illustrated” a group exhibition that Natasha was curating at Kidogo Art House. Already admirers of each other’s work, they began sharing ideas and within a few weeks the seeds were sown for an all female affair at Linton & Kay.
F: We actually met last year when I went to an exhibition that Natasha was curating, I was really impressed by how pro the show was and how well it was organised!
N: She was so real in approaching me with her thoughts of putting together an all female exhibition. Already an admirer of Hayley’s (Fieldey’s) work I was excited as this was something I had thought about before… so immediately I said yes lets have a coffee and a chat, then it all grew from there.
After initial discussions and planning both Natasha and Hayley agreed they wanted to focus on women being strong and individual, giving the artists the freedom to create art that they love to do.
N: This Angle “wild, free women” came about from talking about feminism, slut shaming and all the expectations of how women are “typically “ perceived by all humans in general. We knew one thing; we did not want to empower the generic female image you might see in magazines and advertisements. Hence turning the metaphor of “pretty like rose” upside down and to show we all uniquely have an uncommon side.
With a theme in place, the duo now needed their “Night Flowers”. Together they handpicked and brought together some of Western Australia’s finest female artists.
F: I think what’s really interesting about the show is that all the artists are bringing something different to the mix – we’ve got some awesome large-scale street artists like Hayley Welsh, Anya Brock and Jodee Knowles who’ll be doing big, bright works and that’s juxtaposed against illustrators like Calliope Bridge, Sarah McKloskey, Sheryl Young, Sofia Varano, Natasha and Monday who do smaller, intricate and ethereal works. I’m stoked to have Kim Kim Kim involved as her fine-art portraits are incredible.
N: Each artist creates their own stylized women or “alter ego’s” within their art form. Each artist’s style is completely different. From the way we apply colour to where we create depth. Our focus points are all unique to our characters and each of us has a distinct application style that defines us individually as artists.
Putting together a group show of this nature requires time and patience there is no doubt there are challenges met.
F: …all the organisational aspects and also dealing with 9 other artists with different styles and techniques. I also had no idea how much time it takes to organise an exhibition as well as try to get my work painted in time!
N: We have been so blessed with the girls we put together to create this female extravaganza. Everyone has been professional, understanding, punctual and expressive. I think the hardest part would be just the number of people to communicate with that comes with having a show with 11 artists. Making sure that everyone is happy and on the same level. It hasn’t been a challenge, but just very consistent work.
A few of the featured artists reflected upon the themes of the show and shared their inspiration for The Valley of the Nightflowers…
Valley of the Nightflowers to me speaks about the strength, power and subtlety of femininity. Feminine power is multifaceted and dichotomous. It’s sensual yet strong; inviting but often misunderstood and misrepresented in media. The Valley of the Nightlfowers is a space to explore these realms.
One that likes to work alone in the stillness of the night, where the best ideas form, but also likes company. That loves all that they do, but not all the time and so splits their life into many different roles. A flower with many faces like the Gladiolus tristis, some with scent, some without, attracting bees, moths, butterflies and birds.
When I was given the title of the show, my first thought was of all the girls I draw, dancing in the darkness of my mind. I took the theme quite literally, pairing them with the qualities of night flowering plants to tell stories that are a little about the plant, a little about being a woman and a little about thought. We describe this show as being about rebellious women, howling at the moon, dancing in the dark, but to me being a Nightflower means that you can be quietly different, allowing yourself to bloom into the person you want to be in safety of your own company, in the solitude of the night.
In researching real life night flowers, I came across the moon flower which only blooms in moonlight, they open quickly at night and close as soon as sunlight touches their petals. In some ways, I’m a bit like this where I am very reserved, I only tend to open up in the right setting and as soon as it gets too much – I retreat into my own little world.
Unlike most flowers, Nightflowers bloom in the dark so when I think of the term, I think of beauty and presence that’s not necessarily conventional. I think Valley of the Nightflowers is a celebration of going against the grain. It was this idea that served as an inspiration for my pieces, I wanted to showcase female characters that are feminine and beautiful in their own unique way – not only in appearance but in their personality and disposition. Even though they have their individual quirks, all of my girls share a sense of vulnerability, they are introverts who aren’t afraid to be in solitude and they are old souls with wisdom beyond their years.
I find it pretty difficult to think of myself as a ‘Nightflower’, but if I had to choose, I’d probably be some kind of weed, from a seed blown in on a breeze, that’s trying it’s best to survive and grow in a foreign soil.
I guess for me, ‘Valley of the Nightflowers’ was a confronting to create for, as the Nightflower ‘howling at the moon’ and ’not giving a damn’ is a character I’m not too familiar with myself. I’ve never really seen myself as a ‘ predator’ or ‘ siren’ and I tend to keep myself to myself, so this body of work has really been an exploration of responding to this feeling, questioning what it means to be female, both personally as an artist but in everyday life, reflecting and responding to the expectations and ‘roles’ we face in our society, from fears, to body image and self doubts and listening to these ‘little voices’, and trying to find some kind of resolution through my artwork, which I hope, in turn will help others too.
The first thing that springs to mind is the beautiful bell flower known as ‘Lily of the Valley’… (Although that’s probably because of the similarities in the exhibition name). They are incredibly tiny and delicate but they have that kind of dark, magical feel to them which I think in a way suits this exhibition and the work I’m showing for it.
To me, the title evokes a feeling of the mysterious or the imagined – something feminine and dreamy but somehow dark at the same time. Although I didn’t specifically attempt to work to this phrase, I feel that the drawings I’m showing in many ways reflect these kinds of notions and hopefully evoke similar feelings in the viewer.
The goose neck cactus; adaptable, robust and loves to bask in the sun.
Valley of the Nightflowers is about representing unique women in an unusual light and embracing the weird and wonderful characters in our society. I observed that visual art has a tendency to portray women as a purely aesthetic commodity and as a result, I was inspired to create pieces that defy this, depicting women as multi-faceted, provocative and vibrant characters.
And as for our curators their Nightflowers would be best described as…
Definitely the Titum Arum or “Corpse Flower” just because it’s super weird and cool!
There is no way of picking one flower to represent my spirit. I’ll take a petal from all the flowers to build a beautiful flower crown. This can be my Nightflower.
This promising show will be launching on Nov 8 at Linton & Kay Gallery, and will run till Nov 22 for more details click on the button below.