Creativity doesn’t come easy. It is an accumulation of determination, imagination and persistence. It isn’t instilled in all of us, and is the reason some people choose banking over ballet or medicine over millinery. Luckily, creators persistently exist and take up the task to make our world more beautiful – one plié or hat at a time.
One creator endeavouring such a feat is Novocastrian Ash Wheelhouse. An artist in flora, Wheelhouse is taking the plunge to showcase flowers of natural beauty against the starkness of our modern, concrete world. More comfortable in a forest than in a flat, Wheelhouse’s creations are established through wildness rather than conformity. Careful not to overwork her conceptions or discard the not so typically pretty, Wheelhouse incorporates foliage she finds on the woodland floor as much as she does those on stems, admitting she often works with anything but flowers. “I have a fascination with texture, foliage, interesting berries, dead branches, dried flowers and foraged weeds. I often come home from the flower markets and find I’ve hardly bought any flowers, just greenery and texture!”
Wheelhouse’s latest photo shoot showcases her naturalist work against the brutal, opposing world of an abandoned building. Photographed by Joel Alston from Barefoot & Bearded, their connection to nature and emotional attachment to such is evident from first glance. The shoot was made into a short film, Rob Birchall juxtaposing the harshness of the current world against the beauty of the wilderness.
Surprisingly, Wheelhouse underwent formal training as a florist. Unsurprisingly, she struggled with the customary nature. Fast to commend her education for her understanding of principles, fast wiring skills and the connections she made (her self-termed flower friends),
Wheelhouse found her training frustrating but necessary. Likely due to her adventurous nature and therefore need for deviance, Wheelhouse found herself unlearning customary methods in order to (excuse the pun) flourish.
Wheelhouse, never a conventionalist, was allowed an experimental approach to wedding floristry when she first began, a chance she is particularly grateful for as she was able to master tasks of bouquets, centrepieces, hanging arrangements, ceiling canopies and wedding arches. Along with her progression came an eagerness to try more barer and natural designs, Wheelhouse stating, “I am obsessed with nature. I love working in it, photographing it. I can’t stop dreaming about it”.
Always a lover of Australian wildflowers, Wheelhouse utilises foliage that is typically disregarded due to its natural non-yielding nature. Often stern and non-malleable, Wheelhouse conforms to their harshness, saying that foraging in natural environments has helped her use of certain flowers, because “seeing them grow in the wild gives you a better understanding of how the plant works. I am a believer in using a flower in the most natural way, so to witness flowers not in bunches in buckets at a flower market – it is an eye-opener”.
This year Wheelhouse has taken the plunge to establishing her own florist business Film and Foliage, basing her entire aesthetic on natural accumulation. She has established a partnership with Joel and other young, adventurous creatives in their nonconformist bridal elopement business, Anteloping. You can watch her blossom at filmandfoliage.com