We caught up with our online florist tutor (and designer of William & Kate's Royal wedding flowers) Shane Connolly to find out more about how to be more sustainable in your floral choices.
Why is the art of environmental floristry so important?
We're at a critical time in the battle to protect the environment. Many flowers used commercially in the UK come with more carbon footprint than scent, while British flower growers, who produce gorgeously scented flowers are struggling to make a living.
I believe that flowers and plants are many peoples' only connection to nature in their busy urban lives. So we as florists and floral designers have a unique opportunity to encourage others to see nature in a deeply respectful, pure way. By doing this, we can help them connect with seasonality and the earth.
It is also important that we move away from the use of floral foam, a harmful prop which is used to hold up displays of flowers. We have a very powerful responsibility for our plant, and it is one I take very seriously, as we owe nature everything. Moving away from the use of floral foam is one of many steps we should be taking to look after her. She is our base and our origin. So we need to respect and protect her.
Who is the course suitable for?
Whether you're a beginner, enthusiast, looking for a career change, right through to a professional floral designer who wants to understand more about environmental floristry.
Above all, the course is suitable for people with enquiring minds, a love of flowers and an enthusiasm to learn and share.
This course is also being used to teach practising florists and enthusiasts alike how to practise floristry with the very latest natural and environmentally friendly techniques.
These are woven throughout both the demonstration, practice and thinking in the lessons. I don't want people to copy me, but to become their own unique artist - the assignments are designed to challenge students to develop their own style with these influences.
What will students learn?
Working closely with me, students will become acutely aware of the environmental sensitivity used to create seasonal, nature-led floral art.
I'm passionate about pioneering sustainable techniques. Throughout this course, I've attempted to demonstrate that floral foam is not a part of sustainable floristry and help lead the next wave of environmental florists to adopt foam free techniques.
Plus begin to work out their own techniques too, which is VITAL in my opinion. I want to inspire people to think more about the choices they make and be informed, intelligent artists and designers.
Could you tell us more background about the course?
This course particularly focuses on context and the current environmental thinking that I use to create artistic beauty with flowers. Throughout the course, I reference their natural context within the environment and its relevance to the designs. No floral design will be too big or too small.
This course covers the very simple right through to challenging and sophisticated displays. Most scales of design are covered and students will be ready to work out their own solutions to anything that isn't.
Students will also have the opportunity to learn from Polly Nicholson at Bayntun Flowers and Bridget and Henrietta, The Land Gardeners, who share their philosophies as growers and cut flower experts. As a result, students will begin to understand the whole process of this form of artwork, all the way from soil to vase.
I hope students will find my style of teaching to be both down to earth and pragmatic, whilst being approachable and non judgemental.
Basically, if someone feels like they need some inspiration and insights on how to refresh, invigorate and develop their own style using seasonal, home-grown and environmentally friendly flowers, then this is the perfect course.
What is the structure of the course?
There are 4 lessons:
1. Artistic Philosophy
In this lesson, I provide unique footage which will help you understand how my artistic process works for design in floristry. This is a deeply personal aspect of design, one which enables you to use your own unique environment to inspire and influence the choices you make.
You'll be taken on location during the video lecture with me, on an intimate journey to places of inspiration and natural settings for flowers. Here I share my own passion and thinking processes for how you will begin your own design process.
By the end of this lesson, you'll have learnt how to tap into your own design inspiration, using your own environment.
2. Environmental Flower Choices
Next, I will share how I make choices about flowers based on sustainability. In this lesson, context and the environment play a very important part in the choices that I make. You're encouraged to do the same, wherever you are in the world.
This is where you will start to understand why you're making the floral choices you are, depending on your own context, client needs, flower and foliage availability and personal style.
3. Design Creation
In this lesson, rather than prescriptively telling you what to design, I talk you through several of my own designs, which are followed through from the inspiration stage shared in the first lesson.
You'll learn some ideas and techniques on how to translate your creative inspiration into a practical reality using only environmentally friendly techniques.
4. Favourite Designs
Finally, now you have understood and are beginning to own your personal style, I talk you through my own favourite designs from my own floral work and others.
Why do you like teaching at Learning with Experts? What's different about it?
It's been so insightful already, teaching students from different backgrounds and with different levels of experience from all over the world. It's a very innovative and creative way for people to learn floristry together.
And for me it's vital that we spread the word about environmental floristry globally so people can learn what is possible. I'd recommend studying in this way, because it enables us to learn from (and teach) each other in intimate groups.
Learning with Experts has developed a creative learning environment online which is conducive to demonstrating, sharing and learning about floral design, in an in-depth yet enjoyable way.
It's partly because you're learning with people with different experiences from different countries. But it's also because it's easy to use, and very visual in the way the classroom has been designed to help you share and critique each others' work.
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