It’s a new year. New days, new goals, new hopes. One new year hope is to spend more time surrounded by flowers. Perhaps this has something to do with the current balmy season and all things beautiful seeming to be in bloom, or because I am tired, for now, of photographing food (a passing phase I’m sure). Or maybe it’s because flowers in all their glorious, perfect, natural beauty simply make me happy. I appreciate them.
I did sit on the fence for quite some time just a few years back deciding if I wanted to choose floristry or photography as my next profession. I don’t regret my choice. But I am wondering if I should pull a slasher and do both... Honestly? I am obsessed with flowers. Learning names and seasons, foraging natives, gardening and floristry. I simply can’t get enough.
As far as the art of floristry goes, I have always had such continued adoration for Berry’s local florist, Michelle Collison of Shady Fig. Her work is undeniably beautiful. Michelle’s arrangements and instillations go beyond the predictable, always bursting with a certain unique and verdant flair. The type of arrangement you can’t just walk by. The type of arrangement you dream of being delivered to your front door every other week. Visiting/browsing through/smelling her Berry or Nowra stores is a weekly must for me (if you’re in town, do go!). You can tell every flower and ware is handpicked and radiates Michelle’s unmistakable talent and style – always impressive and ambrosial.
Equally impressive is Michelle’s weekly work schedule and dedication to her craft. Twice a week on Monday’s and Friday’s, Michelle wakes at 2.00am and makes the two hour long journey from her home on the South Coast, NSW to the Sydney Flower Markets in Flemington. There she personally selects flowers and plants to bring back with her to her two Shady Fig stores, where she will continue to work all day until 5pm to then go home in the evening to her young family. Clearly her market runs are an important part of the floristry process for Michelle, something she still finds joy and purpose in. She must. Crazy early mornings and 15 hour days twice a week aren’t for everyone.
I recently had the opportunity to join Michelle on a Monday morning market run. I can’t tell you how excited I was when Michelle agreed to let me follow along -- you simply wouldn’t believe me. Getting up at 2.00am, falling in complete love with the early morning bustle, scent and sight of everything at the market, watching Michelle as she hand picked bunches and chatted like old friends with the store holders, meeting Michelle’s good friend and fellow florist Saskia Havekes of the famed Grandiflora and joining in on the market morning ritual breakfast omelet before making it back home, half asleep but still buzzing with market adrenaline by 9.30am – I now understand completely why Michelle does it. Utter rapture. It was the most wondrous morning and such an honor and treat to join in on and to photograph.
Michelle, thank you for allowing me to grasp a glimpse into the pre-dawn magic of your floristry world. My obsession was nothing but fed and I adore even more now all that you do. This New Year, if I am able to not only spend more time surrounded by flowers but also emulate but a small amount of your inspired work ethic and style, then I can only imagine 2016 to be a very productive, heady and bountiful year. Here’s to that.