Rebecca Louise Law is a renowned international artist who is widely known for her innovative installations incorporating flowers. Her sculptural style is instantly recognisable, often inhabiting large spaces for extended periods of time. Her work is deeply moving and captures the imagination exploring themes of beauty, decay, life and death. Her site-specific work is meticulously created in venues around the world with ethereal hanging installations a recurring theme. We have enjoyed watching Rebecca’s meteoric rise in the world of art with great pride as she worked with and collaborated with McQueens in the past. We spoke to Rebecca to find out how it all began.
What is your first memory of flowers and when did you decide you wanted to work with them?
I can’t remember how old I was, but too young to be on my own. I wanted to give my mother a present so I picked daffodils that had been planted on the side of the road in the village that we lived in. An elderly couple caught me in the act, marched me home and told me off I front of my parents. I was distraught but I remember my mother smiling and afterwards telling me how thoughtful the gift was. I’ve never picked flowers without permission since.
As long as I can remember, I have used flowers as my muse. Every depiction would include a flower. Whilst studying art I began to focus on the flower more abstractly, obsessing about colour and form, my canvases became larger and the flower became less literal. I wanted to create artworks that made the viewer feel like they were inside a flower.
Where did you study art and how did you develop your distinctive style?
I studied Fine Art at Newcastle University between 2000-2004. In 2002 I began to distract from the canvas and started experimenting with how I could create an artwork that would envelope the viewer. After a year of experiments with fabrics, metal, beads, plastic, sweets, grains, threads, canvas, paint, wool and wire I made an installation that combined everything including the odd scattered flower. The piece looked crude and had no relation to the sublime elegance of a flower and what it could feel like to be enveloped by a flower. I went home for the summer frustrated with where my artwork was heading. My father is a gardener and my parents had dried flowers in my attic when I was a child. I started to question them on the process of drying and preservation. When I returned to university in 2003 I drove back with a car full of dahlias and a planned installation focusing entirely on the flower as my sculptural material.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Nature in its abundance inspires me. The sky, sea and fields amaze me. The amount of patterns and elements within one scene in the natural world overwhelms me. To capture an essence of this drives me.
Are there particular flowers that you like to work with?
Everlasting flowers are incredible at retaining colour and form. But I like to work with everything, each new flower is a new experiment. When I create an installation each new space carries new symbolism. I like to research as much as possible with every flower carrying significance.
Why do you think flowers are so compelling?
They have been documented alongside mankind since the beginning of civilisation. The relationship between the human being and the flower transcends survival, feeding the soul. Flowers are a gift from the Earth and we wouldn’t be here without them. Every flower is unique, I think this is why I’m passionate about preservation. All of my artworks are intended to last, allowing the viewer to observe without the pressure of time.
What are your plans for the future?
This October I have an exhibition ‘Life in Death’ at The Shirley Sherwood Gallery, Kew Gardens. I am creating an installation with thousands of preserved flowers to highlight the longevity of the flower as a sculptural material. The piece will be exhibited alongside ancient Egyptian artefacts from Kew’s collection, including flowers that are over 3500 years old.