Katka Pruskova’s feeling for flowers

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Katka Pruskova is a Czech-born computer scientist and photographer. On her quest to show us the amazing colorful world we live in, Katka has made an absolutely spellbinding video of blooming Amaryllis, Lilies, Zygocactus, Rose, Gladiolus, Tulip and Gardenia. I wish my countryman Carl Linnaeus could have watched this masterpiece with us. He would have been supercalifragilisticexpialidocious excited. Sit back, enjoy.

To make this masterpiece, Katka has used a technique called “time-lapse photography.” In a homemade studio (a cabinet, black cloth and two LED lamps), Katka placed her flowers (carefully picked in her mother’s garden) in front of a Canon 5D Mark II and shot 7,100 photos over 730 hours. Once converted into a video, played back at 30 frames (photos) per second, time appears to be moving faster. This is not an exercise for the wilting weeds of the photography world! It takes serious planning and after the hours of shooting there are days of post-production. Bravo!

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French dramatist Jean Giraudoux once said: “The flower is the poetry of reproduction. It is an example of the eternal seductiveness of life.” I’m sure Katka would not disagree but with her time-lapse photography, she makes the flower luscious and sexy as well. Thank you, Katka!

With love from Mireille Zagolin

It is raining and I am cold when I meet Mireille Zagolin at her studio in Nyon near Geneva. Her warm welcome includes a huge mug of hot tea. We chat. She is at once effervescent and charming.

Mireille Zagolin 1

She tells me how, already a wife and mother, she took up painting more than twenty years ago. Sculpting began ten years ago. However, working with oil on canvas is her primary passion. In this medium she can let her imagination fly. Her spirits range far and wide on a hunt for inspiration. By contrast, she has found working with clay appeals to a much more personal, inner part of her being. I see she has difficulty putting this into words. To change the subject: whose work does she admire most? No surprises: Nicolas de Staël and Camille Claudel.

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Untitled, 1990, 60cm x 40cm, paint on silk

Amazingly, Mireille has taught herself to paint and to sculpt. It is obvious that she has talent in abundance. I ask about her best creative moment. “My first exhibition!” She says without hesitation. “It was a great success… and a huge adrenalin rush!” She sold everything bar one silk painting which she shows me. It is delicate, feminine and floral. It heralds her beautiful stuff to come.

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Inevitably, I ask about her worst creative moment. This is the only time during my visit that she is not smiling and laughing. She admits that she has never been asked this. She is silent for a minute. Her face clouds over. Eventually she says “It is when I lose that intimate connection with a clay I am working on; I can’t move forward.” There is the key word: “intimate.” Everything that she creates has a profound air of intimacy together with a distinct femininity. Whatever the medium, her work exudes sensuality and is suffused with love.

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My King, my Queen, 2013, 60cm x 60cm, oil on canvas

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L’amour en voyage, 2013 80cm x 80cm oil on canvas

To visit Mireille’s studio is to be dazzled by striking passages of colour and seduced by beautiful bronze curves. I leave with two of her stunning new canvases in mind as I head out into the rain. But I won’t be cold. I have had a wonderful and warming afternoon. Thank you, Mireille.

Anna King’s Tui brooch

The cover of a New Zealand hunting manual published in the 1990s has a photo of an adolescent Anna King. With rifle in hand and flaming red hair she poses near her trophy beast. A decade on, she meets her unshaven prince-in-camouflage. She embarks on jewellery-making wanting to combine ornament with a fervent love of things natural. Her self-designed silver brooch is the only output before family life takes over. It is a work suffused with love.

Anna King's Tui Brooch

The Tui is New Zealand’s second iconic bird. Its plumage is metallic blue-green. Its white feathery throat bobs characteristically as it chimes and cackles. The circular Tui triad of Anna’s brooch is completely balanced. It speaks to nature’s great cycle and whispers celtic silver. (A link to the red hair?) This is beauty.

When I first meet her, she is wearing the brooch at her throat. Surprised by my magpie-like interest in things beautiful, she tells me of its provenance. I ask what else she has made. “Nothing really” she replies. Her young son watches her prepare for the next hunt. “Got to feed the family” she says.