Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Not quite 36 views
of a historic building

Well, I said I'd post photos of my previous projects for the Government of Alberta and here they are.

Three views of Mount Fuji. Wait...of the table arrangements in the dining room.

From top to bottom: front view, the arrangements in their natural habitat, and rear closeup.

Unable to find the quantity we needed of suitable containers, we opted to re-use the green plastic liners from the original arrangements (yay environment!). The liners are meant for dropping into a bowl or other vessel, so the staff can just plop these into some silver serving dishes they have many of. Margaret wanted the tones very light and fresh for the dining tables, so we kept to shades of white and cream with green accents. In these arrangements, I used rubrum lilies and buds, calla lilies, ranunculus, pittisporum (the dark green leaves with white variegated edges), pale green rose buds, cymbidium orchids, roses, viburnum (the clusters of small white flowers) and wired twigs.

I chose especially sturdy flowers since we knew the dining guests would be touching the arrangements often, and not always as carefully as their mothers would like.

These arrangements (of which, there are four) are intended for the buffet tables. Since Government House doesn't host events every day, in the meanwhile, they've been pressed into service in the tea lounge, the coat room and (as pictured here) on top of the grand piano in the music room.

For continuity, we kept all the floral from the table arrangements and added: green hydrangea, green vanda orchids (the label said phalenopsis, but the veining is more consistent with vanda), purple dendrobium orchids, pale green protea, another type of cream rose, larger calla lilies, a single red ladyslipper orchid as a little "surprise", and a ladyslipper orchid in pale green as another surprise.

You'll notice we amped up the colour a bit, allowing for more green tones, with hits of deep purple and burgundy.

This picture is a bit dark, but I wanted you to see this mirror in the music room.

The custom florals that I've been doing for Margaret and the Government of Alberta are part of her work as a member of a the Government House Foundation Board. The Board's mandate is "to advise on the preservation of the House as an historic building, inform the public of its architectural and historical development and solicit and receive any artifacts for display or use there." If you read the history of Government House, you'll know that it closed in 1938 and wasn't officially reopened to the public until 1971.
From 1938 to 1942, Government House remained vacant. In 1942, during World War II, it was leased to North West Airlines which had contracts for the delivery of aircraft to the United States government to support the construction of the Alaska Highway. From 1944 to 1950, it was used as a convalescent home for wounded veterans. Government House was purchased by the federal government's Department of Veterans' Affairs in 1951 and was operated as a home for disabled veterans. It was during the 1950's that the conservatory, which was once a part of Government House, was demolished.

During one of my visits to Government House, Margaret gave me a quick tour, mentioning that when the House closed, many of its furnishings and decorative objects were sold at auction, including this mirror. Thankfully, records were kept and as the house was being restored, calls were put out and photos were published. This mirror was found in the lobby of the Varscona Theatre—with a giant rainbow painted across it. The Board bought it back, restored it, and returned it to its rightful place, here, in the music room. It still has the original gilding.

This arrangement is the first one you see upon entering through the front doors. Finding the vase proved somewhat difficult, but we prevailed and decided on this one, which Margaret tells me is a similar shade of deep green to English Majolica. The pedestal base adds height, and keeps everything from feeling too heavy.

In this arrangement, again for continuity, we kept most of the floral from the other two arrangements and added camellia leaf branches, burgundy phalaenopsis orchids, cymbidium leaves (the green spiky leaves), and pale green phalaenopsis orchids.

The shape and composition is inspired by those seen in Dutch floral paintings, and florals like this one, densely packed and not too perfect, a reminder of the natural and ephemeral beauty of flowers. The subtle reference to floral history adds a certain presence too.

Above, the same arrangement as seen in the foyer (the entrance doors, not shown, are to the right).

You can see, here, how I allowed for an even greater depth and richness of tones than the dining table and buffet arrangements. This helped ground the arrangement within the large room and all that dark wood panelling. In the background, you can see another floral I did at the end of the hall.

(I apologise for the slightly blurry picture. It was rather dark in the hallway.)

Again, we opted for a depth and richness in tone to build on all that rich tone in the wood panelling, rather than the sharp contrast a white arrangement would've created.

Here, I used green hydrangea (though a different type than the foyer arrangement, for variety), cream roses and rose buds, lavender, burgundy phalenopsis orchids, burgundy ginger flowers, eucalyptus, magnolia leaves, orange and yellow calla lilies, pale green phalenopsis, ranunculus and deep brown twigs. The container was recycled from the arrangement that was here previously. It was some sort of heavy resin, finished to look like worn stone.

That's all for now. I just realised I'm missing some pictures of another arrangement I did for the buffet tables. I'll post them when I finish the florals for the ladies and gents bathrooms.


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