My Relationship with Plants
I was born and raised in Kyrgyzstan, in a town located on the shores of the beautiful mountain lake called Issyk-Kul. Surrounded by the high Tian Shan mountains. From an early age, I've been interested in the history and diversity of plants and flowers. My relationship with them began very early when I was around 6 years old.
Flowers and plants - just like humans - have their own past, present, and future. They all carry stories with them. Stories about the origins, ancient genetics, how they spread around the world through the exploits of sailors and travelers, and their cultural developments in countries worldwide.
Unfortunately, textbooks and many other books describe our relationship with plants in a very boring way. But there is so much to find what is really interesting. Stories that speak to the mind in an amazing and exciting way. Stories associated with the achievements of ancient explorers, the exploits and findings of new species by sailors and travelers, the development of botanical gardens in many different countries and continents, as well as the stories of love, passion, and weakness. Or what about the stories of the great conquerors, bringing back amazing new varieties of plants, never seen?
Each Story is Like a Treasury
My life is completely filled with these stories. I am highly interested in the various facts and figures about plants and flowers. By learning their individual stories, you better understand them and this helps me in my work. The more I learn, the more my love for plants and flowers grows. Each story is like a box of chocolates. When you open the lid only a little bit, you can no longer put it back on. It is too tempting. Or like a chest full of treasures; you want to get to the bottom of it to find out what else is in there. The same applies to the natural world. With enthusiasm and interest, I always go to the bottom of every story. I believe the world is full of these kinds of amazing stories and that if you dare to go on your own journey to discover them, you will be as fascinated by the mysterious world of plants and how they are connected to human life as I am.
Never Skip the Opportunity for Collaboration
I am currently a florist and owner of a small flower wholesale company for shops all over the country. I am always bursting with new ideas. One of my recent ones turned into an amazing and interesting adventure that all started because of one simple rule I have: Never skip the opportunity for collaboration. For this project, together with the famous Dutch company Royal Van Zanten, I decided to acquaint the readers of Thursd with the culture of the Kyrgyz and our national costumes. The main characters of the flower and plant world for this project were completely new varieties of chrysanthemums and charmelias from Royal Van Zanten. Can I refrain from using such textured material? The answer is obvious.
Traditional Kyrgyz Costumes
All images are centered around the people and nature of my homeland. The people represent Kyrgyzstan through their costumes and as you can see, natural materials prevailed during this photoshoot. Wool, felt, leather; all natural fabrics. I chose to use these materials in my design because they create a special but recognizable image. Garment jewelry has been worn for centuries and as a floral designer, this is just like another treasure chest because I can use it to give you a view and understanding of the culture I come from. The combination of traditional clothing styles with modern floristry creates new and refreshing designs. Traditionally, bright colors are used in Kyrgyz outfits. Ornament patterns are made of multi-colored threads, the main colors of the patterns are usually are red, yellow, green, and white. It reflects the nature of this region. Blue sky, bright sun, snow-capped mountains; beautiful at any time of the year. And, of course, lots of green and bright flowers. Their brightness and contrasts only add to my childish perception.
I consider my work to be recognizable for people familiar with my culture but I also hope it creates an understanding of where I come from for the people who don't. For the picture below, special attention was paid to the ruffled dress and skirt, completed with an embroidered vest. All of the bouquets were specifically created to match with the costumes and as you can see in this one with the patterned ribbons, it turned out magical and bright.
Maybe it will seem pretentious to some, but for me, there is no place for modesty if the soul requires the beauty and luxury of Asian culture. In one of the pictures, you can see how the juicy green shade of the Ofir chrysanthemum variety contrasts with the red felt and yellow threads of the Saffina chrysanthemum petals. In another, the same green color emphasizes the severity of the lines of the new hybrid flower from the Alstroemeriaceae family - Charmelia White.
Here you can see a very vibrant Asian style. Alstroemeria is probably my favorite flower. I admire the new direction in the breeding of this popular plant. A small bell on thin twigs adds lightness to the bouquet with a dense cover of chamomile chrysanthemums.
Headdresses occupy a special place in the national Kyrgyz costumes. The cone-shaped caps with feathers on top are called shokulo. This is probably the most famous garment in Kyrgyzstan. One of the headdresses that I used resembles the caps worn by unmarried girls. You can see it in the picture above with the trimmed fur around the rim and the feathers on top. For this one, I used horsetail and a new lemon-green variety of Charmelia, complemented with rowan earrings and small garlands with patterned buds.
Undoubtedly, all the brightness of the national costume, the beauty of our girls, and the tenderness of flowers can be conveyed only in the atmosphere of our nature. Therefore, the decision on the location of the project was predictable. The unexpected obstacle to creating harmony during this mini-trip was the weather. The Tian Shan mountains in translation mean "Heavenly Mountains". Blue skies and masses of reddish-brown rocks should make my project stand out but the threatening thunder was heard before the approaching heavy clouds. So I had to adapt my vision of this photoshoot to the weather. My "assistants" - the blue sky and clouds, quickly disappeared under a veil, the rich greenish-yellow carpet darkened, and at some point, the nature of the photo session itself changed. What was conceived as a tribute to the bright autumn sun suddenly lost its brilliance and acquired a completely different mood.
Nevertheless, everything turned out to be very harmoniously integrated into the surrounding landscape. A little secretive, a little moody, but combined with the bright colors of autumn and a few rays of beautiful sunlight, it still conveyed my initial vision for this project. And hey, that is also part of nature. You can plan every little detail but nature does what it wants and will make its own changes to your seemingly flawless plans without hesitating.
Floristry and text: Petr Anokhin (Istagram @petr_anohin_)
Photographer: Arina Anatoleva (Instagram @_artset)
Flowers: Royal Van Zanten (Instagram @royalvanzanten)