December 30, 2018

Cornelia Blom

Blom knows her blooms

Words Nora Hagdahl

Photo Isak Berglund Mattsson Mårn

I met Cornelia outside her shared basement studio in Stockholm. We walk through the space with low ceiling, to her working table at the furthermost end. The table is surrounded with abundance of flowers. Haulm and wrapping paper is carpeting the floor. On the table a fantasy meadow is mixing artificial looking roses with carnation growing out of the visible oasis block. There is something poetic making art of flowers, making the arrangements work as installations. Flowers are in constant change, from fresh to wither. Their transience is challenging an idea of the eternal art object. On another note they refer to the ossified still-lives trough history.

Cornelia moved back to Stockholm from London after studying Fine Arts at Chelsea College of Arts. At this point she met Nicole Walker and started the project Amaze. Working as an experimental arena for Swedish fashion the project was initiated from the experience that there was a lack of creative spaces for showing young designers. By showing young non-established designers in an unconventional way and with an unorthodox approach to the runway, Amaze has reached recognition in Stockholm’s fashion scene.

I ask Cornelia about her experience being in the verge between fashion and art.

“I don’t feel that I want to be tied up with genres – but I really see the whole project as art. Because couldn’t everything be art? My part in Amaze often concerns the visual configuration of the space and I consider that making art. Then it’s up to the designers how they relate to their own creations. Some probably consider it fashion, some art and some just clothes.”

After two events in 2015 the third appearance of Amaze is currently under construction. What to expect for Amaze #3 is still uncertain, but the platform has filled an important role in culture of Stockholm showing promising designers as NHORM and Minna Palmqvist. This is also the motivation for Blom and Walker to continue developing the projects.

“The project has really no boundaries and I want to look at it like a framework to fill with anything. We constantly try to experiment with the form though the event has been remembering one another up until now. We have organized a big space with some fixed installations and then the designers have presented their clothes in what way they feel. And then of course flowers, a lot of flowers.”

Cornelia has a background working with a wide rage of mediums and genres. She has mainly been working with installations, conceptual- and relational art. One work, Sogoy – an ambulatory gourmet bar serving drinks of herbs, earth or flower, was presented with Yoga Center in 2014. Now Cornelia has dedicated herself to flowers as her single medium.

“The flower has appeared in almost everything I’ve done more or less unconscious. Without thinking more about it than being drawn to its beauty. After a while flowers was just taking over my whole practice. I felt that working with the flower as a medium came naturally to me and was what I enjoyed the most. Generally I’ve opposed myself against art as a therapeutic practice but working with flowers has been something indulging for me. It’s something crafty about working with flowers that create mental calmness, its cozy.”

" I get really touched thinking about an old lady buying a little decorative heart at an one dollar store "

Cornelia’s flower installations have mostly been appearing in different commissions for decorations, where the most extensive ones have been for Amaze. Her way of working with flowers could be described as unconventional.  The delicacy of the flower contrasts with the rough arrangement. Pink roses in cut up mint green PET-bottles create a contradistinction between trash and beauty.

“I can’t really call myself a florist and because I’m not I can be quite unscrupulous about my practice. For the first Amaze we had no flowers standing in water but tulips all over the floor, maybe a cruel way of handling them. I love mixing colors that feels a bit off together and cheap bouquets from Lidl.”

The art of flowers has roots in the Japanese, minimal tradition of Ikebana. This has been an influence of Cornelia’s techniques as well as contemporary florists. She also mentions looking at Sailor Moon for inspiration and her favorite flower is a big dark-pink Sailor Moonish rose. But mostly her work is intuitive. Working with flowers does not allow you to be to specific with what you want to make.

“I think it’s always a bit dangerous to look at work done by others. There is always a chance that you absorb unconsciously and do the exact same thing. For me it is really important with originality. When I look at what other florists I more se as collecting some sort of collective knowledge.”

I ask her about her future aspirations and if she could se herself exhibiting the flowers in more traditional spaces for art.

“I don’t se the point in make one thing of more value than the other. Of course that would be nice, but I have no aspirations doing so either. For me there is something really appealing with the decoration. All humans want to be surrounded by beauty – often manifested in some sort of decoration. There is something so fair, democratic and including about it.”

Undeniably the decorative aspect of Cornelias work makes it more democratic. While art is excluding and demands prior knowledge the decoration is just estimated by its beauty. It makes her work approachable and embracing.

We start taking about the idea of art in general.

“I feel I have a very unpretentious approach to art. I like looking at beautiful stuff. What I really like is just to entertain myself with a really good Pipilotti Rist installation. Letting myself just be so naïve with it that it just becomes wonderful. I don’t really like to intellectualize about art too much, either it is intriguing or it is not. Everybody should be able to enjoy art, regardless of your level of knowledge. I get really touched thinking about an old lady buying a little decorative heart at an one dollar store – its so lovely and I don’t feel you have to classify one expression more important than the other.”

This article was published in Paper Light 2016