This map gives you the locations and meeting times of the current New South Wales Floral Art Association (NSWFAA) affiliated groups.
As my regular visitors to this site will know, I share my lows as well as my highs in competition work. This is one of the lows, but I did learn some very valuable information about how this particular design style is judged at this competition.
The design is mounted on a supplied wire frame with an allocation of 1m square, judged on both sides which should be different.
The Class title, Tropicana, made me think of the beach and the tropics so my design is based on the seaside.
On one side I have used a large piece of coral wedged through the wire frame so it shows on both sides but the majority of it is on one side. Using a whole coconut as the water source (cut out the eyes and drain the milk first) I have placed some bougainvillea foliage and orchid sprays. On the other side is a shell containing some wet sand as the water sources with more orchids, sea mist (gypsophila) and some tropical ferns, all resting on a sea sponge.
This exhibit was not awarded a placing. My lesson : the judges for this design style, at this competition, prefer to see either an obvious diagonal design that extends beyond the wire frame, or two arrangements, high and low, that are joined in some way with horticultural material.
My exhibit could also be improved by the use of more tropical foliage, fruit and flowers. The judges interpreted Tropicana as more tropical forest than seaside.
This competition entry was one of 7 days of competition (6 to 10 Classes each day) that form a part of the largest agricultural show in Australia. In this year the theme was ‘Year of the Farmer” so I wanted my exhibit to incorporate both floral and fruit examples of what is produced by our land.
I have learned (by disheartening experience) that the judges for this design style prefer a diagonal placement or two placements, one high and one low. Since I had already entered a high/low design in another Class I decided to make this one on the diagonal.
The top grouping uses a small rectangle of floral foam encase in some plastic mesh as the water source. I wrap the foam in plastic mesh (if it isn’t already done) to make it easier and stronger when attaching to the wire frame with cable ties. It was dahlia day in the Cut Flower section of the competition so I have used dahlias as the flower for this design. A banana is placed through the mesh so that it can form part of each side’s design with a variety of commercially grown foliage used in the top and lower arrangements. The central sphere is two halves of a floral foam ball covered in moss with a single dahlia placed into it. It is held together and onto the wire frame by pushing bamboo skewers through both sides above and below the wire frame. This means that the bamboo resting on the frame takes an even load of the weight of the sphere.
The arrangements are linked with spear grass. On one side the grass is threaded with grapes, on the other side with cherry tomatoes. Spear grass also links to a single high placement of a strawberry which rests on the wire frame.
This design placed First with the judge being happy at the combination of fruits and flowers, especially the use of the tomatoes to reinforce that these are fruit not vegetables!
If you have read any of my other posts on this design style, then you will already know it is a favourite of mine. The exhibit is mounted on a supplied frame and space allowed is 1m square. It is judged from both sides, which should be different from one another.
This is a great Class title – so many ways it can be interpreted. Here is one side of my exhibit (the background is a bit distracting, sorry).
I have used a long branch of tortured willow to run from the top arrangement to the lower one. This is not only twisted but can be threaded through the mesh so that both sides have some of the material showing.
Both arrangements use a floral foam ball as the water source. This is wrapped in some plastic mesh and then secured to the wire frame with cable ties through the plastic mesh (not the floral foam as it will gradually drop down the wire with the weight of the arrangement over the two days it is on display).
The top arrangement is a collection of palm leaves both natural and woven with more tortured willow stems and branches, stripped of their leaves to accentuate the twisting nature of their shape. There is also the natural swirl of fishbone fern and weeping grevillea. A single camellia flower sits at the base of the top arrangement. I chose the camellia for its swirling petal structure.
The lower arrangement uses similar materials with the addition of a camellia flower (facing the opposite side to the top arrangement) twisted through the frame and some sea mist (similar to gypsophila) for its swirling structure.
Both arrangements have circles of dried tortured willow as accents.
This design placed third. Had it been a “Foliage only” class I could have omitted the flowers and left it as is for a better result. However this was not the case and it basically needs more colour ……or flowers…..or both!
The full title of this Class was “Drama with Driftwood, Wheat, Wool and Roses”. The exhibit is judged from the front and sides and competitors need to be mindful that the judges will be looking down into the design rather than having it eye or waist level as happens with bench and plinth arrangements.
Always check your local rules about the difference between driftwood and weathered wood as sometimes these terms are not interchangeable. In the Australian Floral Art Association (AFAA) Manual, driftwood/weathered wood is defined as “wood that is not living and has been weathered by any of the natural elements – fire, air, water, earth, wind. Generally any type of dried wood, heavy thick bark, root, branch, large ivy stems etc are included.” In contrast, I have seen, in other countries, driftwood defined as “wood shaped by the sea” and weathered wood as “wood shaped by the sun and wind”.
I borrowed a piece of driftwood that I felt was suitably dramatic and used this as the basis for my design. It has a strong diagonal shape that I have kept in place with the addition of the dark red flax leaves and red roses. A wool scarf hand knitted with unspun wool is draped over the driftwood to look as though it has been washed up onto it.
And the wheat? I picked up from my dried material container at the farm, what I thought was wheat, only to find when I was putting this design together, that it was not wheat. Naturally this meant that my entry was classed as Not According to Schedule (NAS) and so not included in the judging but left on display at least.
This exhibit was to be staged on a plinth 60cm square with an unrestricted height allowance. The competition was part of an annual Agricultural Show with an emphasis on Year of the Farmer. So my design needed to reflect some of the agricultural products that require “gathering”.
I should admit, here, that I am always on the look out for useful and unusual mechanics for my designs. Twice a year our local council collects any large unwanted household items and this is a treasure trove for me! The central support for this design is the agitator from a clothes washing machine – a great light plastic item with perfectly shaped spirals that can hold floral foam and still be a guide for the spiral shape. I drove past it for a few days before deciding it was mine….
Three pieces of floral foam have been encased in a long chicken wire tube which is then placed in the spiral created by the agitator. Some of the chicken wire shows through in the design but it does not look out of place given the actual chicken and eggs in the finished exhibit.
Each side view has a section of fresh floral material in the foam working its way up the spiral to the top. Incorporated as dried material are some of the crops (wheat, corn, maize, hay) that would be “gathered” as well as vegetables. My chicken is scratching in the millet at the base of the design and its presence is complemented by the eggs in the straw nest at the top.
This exhibit placed Second (no First place was awarded). It needs more material, both fresh and dried, to define the central spiral.
This design is presented on a supplied wire frame 140cm tall. Rather than an all around design, it has two sides, both of which are judged and should present a different view for the judge.
I enjoy this style of design – it lends itself to a minimalist approach and is challenging in the mechanics of having horticultural material suspended on the frame with hidden water sources.
My concept for this design was to have all the elements interwoven in some way – either with themselves or adjacent plant material.
The design is held together in the middle by using plastic cable ties to secure a floral foam ball, cut into two halves, to either side of the wire mesh. The ball is covered in moss.
From this extends a number of grevillea branches (a weeping variety so it has a natural tendency to curl on itself) that have been twisted together and through random sections of the wire on both sides, ending in curls in opposite directions.
Tulips have been woven through the wire and the foliage on both sides in a mirrored pattern with some of the stems plaited together.
Some additional fern foliage has been woven through the wire in the central area to highlight the focal point.
Here is the view of the other side:
No placing for this one – I believe it lacks impact and colour. The winning designs all used fabric interwoven with the mesh and then added the horticultural material on top of this “backdrop”.
In a previous post I have included the definition of a “sculptural” design. Click here to read it.
For this particular day of competition, we were only allowed to use Australian native flora. You may have noticed I enjoy working with bark – this Class was an open invitation to immerse my design in some wonderful pieces of gum tree bark I have collected after storms.
A section of gum tree branch has been placed horizontally across the display plinth and the bark sculptural form is placed on top of this. I have let the bark pieces determine the shape, merely slotting them in to one another where there was a split in an appropriate place.
To fill out the design, there are some gum leaf sprays (grey in keeping with the “dry” look I wanted to create) in the main section as well as from one end of the base branch.
When I completed the exhibit I felt it needed some colour to offset the bark so added a Gymea Lilly leaf to stand out from the main structure.
This exhibit placed second – the judge was delighted with the sculptural effect but wondered why I had “spoiled” it with the big green blotch in the middle! She felt the dry feeling was dominant and the green leaf did not add anything to the design.
This is one of my very early attempts at the “all around” design. I am showing it here to highlight some of the details you must remember every time you enter an exhibit.
The structure supporting the main group of foliage and flowers is a terracotta hexagonal pipe (known here as an ag pipe). Mistake number 1 – this is not a container or material that would be seen in a jungle. I could have still used the pipe but should have covered it with jungle foliage of some description or even glued on some dirt and leaf litter that you would see in the jungle.
The top grouping of plant material is appropriate but does look top heavy from one side – Mistake 2: this is judged all around so no one side should appear to be dominant in the design.
At the base I have some ferns you would find on the jungle floor but (Mistake 3) I have placed dahlia flowers in amongst them – I can’t think of a jungle where you would find small decorative dahlias……..
So no suprises that this was not in the placegetters but I can look at it as a great learning opportunity and a constant reminder to keep the theme and Class Title in mind when I am completing the exhibit.
The definition of “sculpture” design from our Australian Floral Art Association Manual (AFAA) – “Dominant, clean cut forms are used to present a chiselled or modelled three dimensional effect, relying on the beauty of shape and space. There is no distinct or obvious focal area, the interest being on the whole form. The aim is to create rhythm and inbuilt vitality through the use of colour, texture, line and pattern. The sculpture may be constructed using either a quantity of material of one type or a combination of different types.”
Here is my exhibit:
My plan was to have the sculpture as organic as I could make it to reflect my impression of a jungle as twisting and turning vines and flowers.
A woven bamboo basket contains rocks and wet sand (for weight as well as a water source). The “ordered jumble” inside is two twisty branches wrapped in stripped vines surrounded by ferns, orchids, strelitzia flower spikes (no flowers showing- just the bud spike) and a number of pieces of naturally curled bark.
This exhibit was awarded second place – actually very fortunate not to be disqualified as the largest piece of bark slipped during judging to be outside the size limitations!
Here are some other views: