The vision of warm blue a calming, soothing and peaceful influence became a natural setting for my chosen oriental blooms. The opal blue gemstone has such beauty and intrigue with rich hues glinting from its surface showing a variety of colours in different combinations. This together with its Asian translation of a sign of hope, led me to experiment with this natural shade. Far back in history the opal was a symbol of fidelity and assurance, powerful and positive traits that have channeled a love for this stone. With that in mind the relationship between it and the orient was clear. Born was the ‘opal blue’ for Flowers of Virtue. The slightly translucent, milky blue background offsets the colours of the bamboo greens, the soft white orchid, pink chrysanthemums and Chinese plum blossom whilst the rich border of gold wraps itself delicately around for the final flourish.
Flowers of Virtue
Inspired by those highly sought virtues in Chinese culture of purity, uprightness, modesty and strength the botanicals plum blossom, chrysanthemum, orchid and bamboo lent themselves to a natural portrayal in loose bunches expressing their freedom and integrity. These flowers are known as the ‘Four Gentlemen’ in Chinese culture and exude warmth, beauty, optimism and strength. The butterfly captures the symbols of bliss and joy as it flutters from flower to flower.
Plum blossom (Prunus Mume)
What a miracle this tree is! When all else is hibernating in the middle of winter the plum tree blossoms demonstrating those heavenly characteristics of vitality, endurance and hope. A sign that spring is on its way! Being traced back 2000 years it is now the national flower of China and its beauty, spirit and charm inspires poets, painters, sculpters and rug designers of course! When in bloom it releases a sweet fragrance and it’s five-petals echo five Chinese wishes that of honesty, wealth, health, longevity and prosperity.
This beautiful flower of Chinese origin manifests strong and spiritual characteristics. It blooms in the cold, autumn air also demonstrating its tenacity in the face of adversity and the Chinese believe it represents long life and good luck in the home. Chrysanthemum is the western name and is derived from the Greek word ‘chrysos’ meaning gold and ‘anthemon’ meaning flower. Not only is it symbolic of beauty and happiness but also as a medicinal herb to improve eyesight, alleviate headaches and as an anti-inflammatory. Furthermore it is a revered ingredient for tea, wine and used in salads. In Western culture we give Chrysanthemums to express love and friendship.
This led me onto that most noble of blooms, the orchid! This exotic, luxurious and passionate flower is associated with fertility, virility, love and elegance. The most predominate orchid genera the Paphiopedilum derived its name from Paphos the temple where Aphrodite was worshipped. I have depicted the soft, white orchid throughout ‘Flowers of Virtue’ which symbolizes innocence, purity and elegance in Chinese culture.
Confucius loved orchids and his words ‘Orchids grow in the woods and let out their fragrance even when no one is there. Like men of noble character do not let poverty deter their will to be guided by high principles and morals’, highlight the inner strength and determination of this beautiful jewel. Yet with all that beauty the orchid just like the chrysanthemum was also esteemed for its medicinal purposes being used as a remedy and dare I say as an aphrodisiac!
The ancient and stoic of all Chinese plants had a definite place in my collection of botanicals. This often tall, evergreen represents once more endurance, peace and vitality. It demonstrates a harmony between nature and humans. The Chinese believe its deep roots signify resoluteness, it’s tall, straight stems honour, it’s hollow interior modesty, and its clean, spartan exterior chastity. The plant exemplifies itself with its abundant uses in civilization from providing food, clothing, housing, transportation, musical instruments, furniture, weapons and even as a writing material. This elegant oriental beauty radiates positivity and has been the inspiration not only for my ‘Flowers of Virtue’ rug but also for poems, paintings, music, legends and stories.
I like to think that the Flowers of Virtue rug combines those elements of beauty, strength, charm and above all joy, to look at and sit, dance, walk or lie on!
Thanks for reading,