A moving collection of flowers in bloom
Bloomed is Harris' study of 20 plants, with which onlookers may subtly interact. Playing on the nature of classical still life, small movements enliven the flowers, causing them to flourish as observers pass by.
The 20 blossoming flowers were selected by the artist for their beauty, structure and unique features. Meticulously recreated through computer animations, each flower encapsulates the romanticised surrealness synonymous with Harris' artworks.
"In the National Gallery, one of my favourite rooms is Room 17a, a room I informally refer to as the “flower room”. Gathered here, the great painters of Dutch Flower painting are represented, such as Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder, Rachel Ruysch, Balthasar van der Ast and Jan Van Huysum. It is easy to see how tulip mania developed in the 1630s and prices came to reach such astonishing heights, the beauty of their colour (actually caused by the transmission of a tulip virus) mixed with the rarity and chance of getting a specific type must have felt like gambling.
The depiction of flowers (like the impressionist masterpieces described earlier) is all too frequently dismissed in contemporary culture as simply a type of ‘chocolate box art’ or suited only for the covers of classical music CDs.
However, in reality it can be seen to be a complex interplay where the development of technology, an understanding of science (through selective breeding) and market drives form speculative ‘bubbles’. Something that can be observed in the bitcoin era of today.D’arcy Wentworth Thompson, a pioneer of mathematical biology and author of the influential book On Growth and Form (1917) explained morphogenesis and phyllotaxis and its relationship to mathematical patterns and concepts such as the Fibonacci sequence.
Jan Van Huysum (active in the 17th and 18th centuries) was one of the greatest painters of still life, and specialised in the skilled representation of flowers. In the National Gallery’s Flowers in a Terracotta Vase (1736) the eye roves across a static landscape of flowers, the painter imbues life and vivacity in the work with the addition of butterflies, flies and the bowing, curling, explosion of stems that support the flower heads, almost all of which are in full bloom – timed to open like a synchronised firework. Here and there, a droplet falls. The grapes and peaches feel ripe and good enough to eat. As we further inspect the piece, things begin to take on a surreal twist, the perspective feels strange, like the vase is sliding into the background, the small nest of eggs feels glued on and all the insects are suspended in animation, or posed as if nothing will take flight.
Harris’s Bloomed Wall (2017) pays homage to this genre of still life painting. In these works, the artist fully embraces the surreal, anachronistic nature of the arrangement of many different varieties of flower in coordinated bloom. Unlike in nature the flowers are made to last, rather than a real-life simulation they are caricatures, an abstraction of the real thing. The flowers sway and react to the viewer’s movements as if attached to springs, jostling for position, docking themselves like spaceships into their position on the grid, petals open and close but never fall from the stem. In some ways, it is the logical conclusion of a still life genre which aimed to capture the ecstatic moment of the hyper-real bloom than any perceived objective reality."
Extract from essay by Sunny Cheung.
8 + 2 AP + 2P for each flower
Code, display screen, electronics, sensor, aluminium, acrylic.
286 (W), 342 (H), 72 (D) mm
11.2 (W), 13.5 (H), 2.8 (D) inches
335 (W), 408 (H), 72 mm (D)
13.2 (W), 16 (H), 2.8 (D) inches
446 (W), 518 (H), 72 mm (D)
17.5 (W), 20.3 (H), 2.8 (D) inches
Each of the flowers within the 'Bloomed' artworks has been created for a specific size, and is available in only that designated format.