A Floral Installation: how flowers create atmosphere and emotion

Neill Strain was recently asked to style the High Altar of the Nottingham Cathedral for a flower festival. Working in the grandeur and splendor of an iconic Cathedral such as this was an incredible experience.  See how Neill's floral installation expresses emotion and learn a little history about the Cathedral.

I have always felt very privileged to work with flowers... to have the opportunity to mark the most special occasions of people's lives by making them more beautiful and magical... creating memories that can last a lifetime.  Within the wide range of floral extravaganzas I undertake, I must admit that I really enjoy creating large floral installations as these are often the most exciting and challenging due to their scale and due to the exceptional venues they take me to.

I was recently asked to style the High Altar of the Nottingham Cathedral for a flower festival. Working in the grandeur and splendor of an iconic cathedral such as this was an incredible experience. 

The Nottingham Cathedral is one of the most exceptional Roman Catholic Cathedrals in the U.K. It was built in the Early English Plain Gothic style of the Gothic Revival period in 1841 to 1844. The architect was A. W. N. Pugin (Augustus Welby Northmore), famed for his interior design and assistance to architect Sir Charles Barry on the British Houses of Parliament, the Palace of Westminster, arguably the most spectacular example of Gothic Revival in the world. 

Pugin was a converted Roman Catholic and this incited his visits to Ireland and Australia where he designed and built many other Catholic churches and cathedrals.  In all his works, he demanded the highest quality of workmanship from his craftsmen, particularly the stonemasons. The stonework in the Nottingham cathedral, although plain, is outstanding.  

The High Altar at Nottingham Cathedral with floral installation styled and created by Neill Strain Floral Couture

The inspiration for the form, the colour scheme and flower choice of my floral installation at the High Altar came primarily from the majestic space, the Gothic forms, the deep reds, oranges and gold that are the dominant colours in the cathedral and typical of that era.  These factors were important features to consider in the design.  

All photography is by John Nassari www.johnnassari.co.uk 

I used over 5 meter tall birch trunks, painted gold and deep red, to create a significantly voluminous and balanced structure to support the flowers.  I wanted my installation not only to fulfill the proportions of the given space, but to create an upward  movement in keeping with the Gothic architecture and the spirit of the cathedral.  The design dances in the space, yet delivers a sense of tranquility and peace with its harmonious forms and intense colours, creating atmosphere and emotion.  

The rectilnear pattern on the floor of the high altar is repeated in the design with the placement of the birch trunks..

The flowers I selected are exotic and unusual, in the quintessentially Neill Strain style.  They comprise Orchids and Gloriosa Lilies.  The Gloriosa Lilies are a rare species named "Tomas De Bruyne" after my friend and colleague for whom we created the designs for the 2014 release of the new flowers.  The Orchids are Phalaenopsis, "Kaleidoskope" and "Seoul" varieties.  The strong hues of magenta, orange and fucsia are striking yet harmonious and add to the wow! factor.  They are very beautiful flowers individually; together I find the effect quite stunning - I hope you agree!

Strong colours together can be harmonious and exciting

Strong colours together can be harmonious and exciting

If you would like to create a very special atmosphere with a large floral installation in your own home, business or any other venue, for a special occasion or just for everyday living, please contact us.  Give us a call, an email, or drop into the Belgravia boutique for a glass of Champagne so we can start discussing how to make your wildest ideas become a reality of floral magic.

Florally yours,

Neill x

Photogarphy by John Nassari www.johnnassari.co.uk