From New Zealand with love – European exclusive blossoms at Harrogate Spring Flower Show

An exclusive exhibition of spectacular wearable art will blossom at the Harrogate Spring Flower Show next week (20 - 23 April 2017).

The Christchurch Connection, which features fabulous floral costumes by award-winning New Zealand artist Jenny Gillies, is a European first and will form the centre piece of the show’s new spring theme, HortCouture.

Jenny, whose work is helping to raise the profile of her home city from the rubble of the devastating 2011 earthquakes, is exhibiting for the first time outside Australasia.

A former microbiologist, Jenny started making costumes after a sunflower hat she made was spotted at the races and she was commissioned to make more. She has gone on to produce pieces for theatre, film and opera, and has won many awards for her wearable art.

Harrogate Flower Show Director Nick Smith said: “When we saw Jenny’s work via the internet we were completely blown away by the fabulous detail and stunning spectacle of her flower gowns – they are a perfect fit for our spring HortCouture theme.

“We are also looking forward to hearing the amazing story of Jenny’s unique creations and how the beautiful flowers and gardens of the city of Christchurch helped to inspire her wonderful works of art.”

Jenny’s gowns begin with a real flower, which she pulls apart to create patterns for each element, ensuring that her creation is botanically correct. It takes up to three months, 70 metres of sumptuous silk and velvet fabric, plus miles of thread to complete each piece. She now has a collection of around 100 costumes and has handpicked a special selection for her debut in the UK.

“This is a fantastic opportunity not only to exhibit in Europe for the first time, but also to spread the word about our wonderful city and the rich culture people can expect to find when they visit,” said Jenny, who will be giving a live presentation as part of the exhibition each day of the show.

“The gowns will look absolutely fantastic in a flower show setting and I am really looking forward to seeing the reaction of the British visitors to floral art New Zealand style!”

Jenny’s work has featured at the Royal Adelaide Show in Australia and also wowed judges at the World of Wearable Art Awards in New Zealand. It is currently on display at Christchurch Botanical Gardens to mark the reopening of one of its historic buildings following the earthquakes of 2011.

The Christchurch Connection will form the centre piece for the flower show’s HortCouture attractions, which explore the links between plants, flowers and style. Other features include a Green Room, furnished entirely with plant material, and a series of large scale flower arrangements celebrating the international fashion icons, Vivienne Westwood, Versace, Chanel and Ralph Lauren.

Tickets are available on the gate each day of the show: Thurs-Sat £19; Sun £17. Under 16s are free with an adult and parking is also free. Show opening times: 9.30am – 5.30pm (4.30pm Sunday).

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