In Full Bloom: The Amazingly Fake Flowers of Carmen Almon
When Carmen Almon invites visitors to her property in Bordeaux, it is not its impressive high ceilings or romantic stucco walls that catch their eyes. Rather, it is the delicate plants filling the space. Such as the poppies and Japanese anemones, which seem to grow from the white marble chimney mantelpiece, or the cherry blossom branch on a sideboard in the hallway.
Carmen Almon grows her flowers herself, but not as you might imagine – with a shovel and wearing gardening gloves and rubber boots. She does not need a garden, nor does she need water. And you’re wrong if you think that Almon must then be using sophisticated genetic manipulation. Instead of soil and flower seeds, she uses brilliant copper, wire, enamel, and oil paints to painstakingly create hyperrealistic plant sculptures by hand, which are hard to differentiate from their relatives in the adjacent garden.
Only when touched do they reveal their true identity to the viewer – one that is based on the perfect interplay between deception and reality. This impression is enhanced by the almost accidental placement of small insects, such as a butterfly or a grasshopper. The pieces do not come cheap. The finely wrought works of art, which are especially appreciated by private collectors and galleries, cost up to 40,000 Euros.
Before Carmen Almon tried her hand at playing Mother Nature, she used pen and paper to capture her observations. At some point, she swapped her familiar tools against sharp cutters, pliers, and even nail scissors, with which she transformed bright copper wires and sheets into delicate networks of roots and wafer-thin petals.
In order to create pieces that are as life-like as possible, Almon often studies the living subjects, swapping her workplace in the studio for a flowering field or her own garden. With a creative process that can take up to three months, this is a welcome change. And does one or the other piece of botanical art perhaps hide there between the bright cornflowers and buttercups? That’s a mystery only the artist can solve.
Photos: via carmenalmon.com