Florist profile: Wild at heart

Chris Campbell from Wild at Heart Flowers in Brisbane is a true floral artist with a huge respect for her craft, nature and her role. Her words are an absolute treat, as are the images of her work. Grab a cuppa, enjoy

Was it always flowers…

I truly wish I could say I was lured into floristry by the loving garden hand of a grandmother or relative, and that the veins of horticulture ran deep in my blood however this would be far from the truth… Although my grandmother did love her plants I discovered my love for nature before the floral artistry form.  I travelled the world extensively in my twenties and fell in love with varying landscapes of all kinds, including that of the vast ocean for which I spent a good 6 years of that decade.

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Photographer: Mandi Nelson

I hailed from an artistic background in my late teens and I guess this coupled with an acquired deep love for nature was perhaps the catalyst for my explosion into floristry but in truth I think flowers found me.

At a time in my life when I had experienced my greatest loss I found an unexpected peace and comfort in working with flowers.  It gave me the space to hear some of my most silent thoughts and allowed me to connect with them in a way no other medium had.  It was at that point I took my leap of faith into floristry…

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Photographer: Deb Boots

My style and philosophy

As a wedding/event florist I value and respect the position I have to create some beautiful scapes for clients.  First and foremost I see the role as one of service in which I work to brief to create something that will allow the event to surpass their expectations…

I love this aspect of the job as it stretches me to work beyond my own creative boundaries and often my comfort zone.  I would consider my own style to be fairly wild in nature, untamed, abundant, seasonal and naturalistic.  I am enthralled by how complex nature is and how it unfolds in the physical form of landscapes.

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Photographer: Mandi Nelson

Weaving and threading ever so beautifully in its wild overgrown state I guess my work can often subliminally take on a similar attributes.  In saying that I don’t mind indulging into the Avant Garde sphere as well.  I don’t mind getting weird with flowers. That sounded weird… I mean I don’t mind exploring unusual concoctions/installations with flowers.  Breaking free from technique and just going a little nuts.

In truth, style fluctuates.  I am forever inspired by so many talented and wonderful floral creatives that my own style can travel on the ebb and flow trend, design and colour crushing… I like working with seasonal and foraged produce wherever I can and in working with such treasures I like to pay respect to their natural state without overworking them.

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In a way I guess being inspired by florals and foliage in their natural form I find my work can often try and allow for the flow of nature to be evident in my work.  I’m getting better at recycling too… Drying flowers for natural dyes, I’m about to begin composting materials for my flower beds.  Working with flowers has made me so much more aware of my footprint on the planet and my responsibilities and understanding how I can improve on all aspects of my business to be more sensitive to our environment.

Creative Inspiration

Most of my creative inspiration without a doubt comes from my natural surroundings.  I love seeing how the familiar streets of my home town change through the seasons allowing colours and form to transcend from one thing to another.  With social media on steroids it’s almost impossible not to be inspired by the overwhelming amount of imagery that can filter through on a daily basis.

I am grateful for the stimulation however I do try to let the flowers do most of the talking.  I’m fortunate to be at the markets every week so this allows me to be inspired by what is available to use at that time.  Providing both inspiration and challenge it’s one I look forward to every week and embrace with enthusiasm.  Like any element within the design industry trends come and they go so although I enjoy the inspiration that comes from various international trends I still try to hear my own aesthetic voice speak when I am creating for myself and clients with open briefs for this is where I find my greatest satisfaction.

To Decorate 1

Creating a piece

I approach each piece as a blank canvas.  Generally when selecting/sourcing the products for the task I begin to see unique characteristics of each branch, stem, flower head that resonate with the style or aesthetic of the piece I am looking to achieve.  I mostly then begin with shape and form and this will often be defined by a few branches/ twigs, stems and then weaving texture, colour and layers begin to allow the remaining produce to fulfil the form.

I photograph my work extensively.  Sometimes I can take hundreds of images of the one arrangement.  On reviewing each frame I see different things, nuances, things that may need fine tuning, and this is part of my editing process for floral work and I just happen to be obsessed with photographing flowers as well.  In another life with more time and money I might just take it up professionally but for now it’s for me to learn from and to help with my editing process.   I can also get a bit Coco Chanel with it and before she goes out the door one piece gets removed.

How much creative freedom…

I have been super blessed to have many of my clients give me quite a broad scope for their events.  On these occasions I certainly like to work quite freely with the product and my own naturalistic style – most often bigger than even I imagined things to end up… I’m not sure how this always seems to happen but it just does.  I always consult with my clients extensively on design, size, form, style, floral varieties to be used and colour and vessels before undertaking events and it’s always well documented so everyone is aware of what the expectations are for the day.  I’m learning every single time I undertake work for a client and for myself.  There is great creative freedom in that alone.  Some briefs may not present themselves to align with my own favoured aesthetic but I enjoy the challenges regardless and I always always learn from the experience and for that I am grateful.

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Photographer: Danielle Thomas

Brides in planning…

I think it’s important for brides to speak about things that are important to them on the day.  Starting with the overall feel/ ambiance of the event, down to any particular scents/ florals that resonate with them to help bring a personal touch to their wedding day.  Have a few key images that represent aspects of style, colour and ambiance that will begin a visual language for you and your florist.

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Photographer: Peppermint Photography

Try and think beyond flowers as just decoration and allow them to tell your story or at the least create an experience for your guests.  When lighting, florals, design, styling and location all resonate with the same intent it has the power to have remarkable impact.   Seasonal florals are the most reliable and the best to work with so make sure you have this discussion regarding your date in advance.

Getting too attached to images that hail from other countries in entirely different seasons can often lead to great disappointment.   Discuss filters/editing with your photographer.  Artistic photographers will always carry their own finished aesthetic and this can affect things like colour/tone and in fact overall feel of the flowers used on the day!

Best Gig and Why

Still to this day was one I had the pleasure of doing with 36 hours’ notice.  It was for one of my best friends who lived in remote Country Victoria.  Her florist (the only town florist) had not received the wedding order confirmation.  Which meant no flowers for the bride… I arrived into town and within hours word had got around that there were no flowers for this wedding and guests that were to attend started cutting up their gardens and acreages and delivering blooms in utes to the venue.

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I had 24 hours, I was fresh into floristry at the time, and still nothing will compare to the sheer joy of working with product people had grown, nurtured and sacrificed for the event.  I had no preconceived brief or plan, just my secateurs, boundless product from the surrounding area and some trusty helpers by my side and off we went to work.

This experience is one I will treasure forever and has encouraged me along with time to begin the process of small scale farming to work more with seasonal home grown produce wherever I can because it just feels so darn good to know where it comes from and what it has taken to evolve.

Wild at Heart Flowers is a blossoming freelance floral studio that crafts beautiful wild bloom creations for weddings, corporate gatherings and special events.based in Brisbane and can be reached via the website or on 0438 114 964.

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