Fiona's crop of ghostly flowers reminds us of what we have lost

15 May 2024
Two lines of small grey flow sculptures on a wall

Britain’s lost wildflowers are recreated in a poignant exhibition which has just opened at the West Downs Gallery at the University of Winchester.

The Englishwoman’s Flora features more than 200 tiny delicate sculptures of wildflowers made from masking tape, wire and graphite by artist Fiona Hingston.

The small flowers have no colour, other than grey, giving them a ghostly feel which highlights the loss of colour from our landscape with the disappearance of wildflower meadows.

A small grey flower sculpture

Fiona drew inspiration from The Observer’s Book of Wild Flowers.

“In 1962 Rachel Carson published Silent Spring, a book that foretold the destruction of flora and fauna by the indiscriminate use of herbicides and pesticides. Two years later I was presented at a school prize giving with a copy of The Observer’s Book of Wild Flowers - ‘awarded for excellent progress’, said Fiona.

“The irony of this was not lost on me when I recently opened the book and realised I can no longer find many of the flowers illustrated there. Progress at what cost? Ninety-seven per cent of British wildflower meadows have now disappeared.

“Deciding that if I couldn’t find them, I would get to know each of the 200 flowers in the book by making them. My hope is that with our increasing awareness of this devastating loss and subsequent effects on biodiversity, these ghost flowers just might have the chance to flourish again.”

For 20 years Fiona Hingston has recorded aspects of her local landscape through drawing, photography, and sculpture.

She lives and works in a village on the edge of the Mendip Hills in Somerset where she says that her observations have become disrupted by the growing awareness of industrial farming methods and vanishing flora and fauna.

The Englishwoman’s Flora is at West Downs until 26 June.  The gallery is open from 8am until 6pm Monday to Friday and 8.30am until 4pm on Saturdays.

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