Paper Flowers- Helichrysum bracteatum


Admired for the beauty of its joyful flowers, the petals of the Helichrysum bracteatum are like stiff paper, unfolding to form concentric rings. They grow in full sun and attract butterflies. They make excellent cut flowers and last indefinitely if dried. The white variety is unusual, with a subtle silky sheet, and reminds me of my grandmother.

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Dwarfed by rocks and growing in dry, stony soil, the wide-eyed wonder of Fynbos is that it not only survives but thrives, making these heathland plants so exciting.

The name originates from the Old Dutch words for ‘fine bush’ – thin, straggly, scrubby, and brown. But on closer inspection, Fynbos reveals itself to be a mesmerising mosaic of plants bursting with flowers. The leaves are usually hard but delicate and the flowers range from soft blooms to the paper-hard petals of Helichrysum bracteatum.

When I come across a subject that draws me to paint it, I consider the whole environment. Colours in nature are all complimentary – purples, blues, and oranges play together. I am also attracted to the geometrical shapes that the movement of shadows and the shadings of surrounding rocks and soil make, lending themselves to an abstract interpretation. There is great scope in the juxtaposition of positive and negative forms and tones.

Rather than a completely realistic rendition of the subject, I try to tell a story, much like the illustrations in a book are part of the narrative.
I really enjoyed working on these three pieces as they challenged me artistically.

Dimensions 609 × 460 mm
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