The WAR Flowers|Fleur D’Armes opening reception was held on Saturday, June 3rd, 2017, at Les Jardins de Métis, (Reford Gardens) in Grand-Metis, Quebec, and was officially opened by Alexander Reford, Director, Les Jardin de Metis, Viveka Melki, Curator, WAR Flowers, and Remi Masse, Liberal MP, (Métis/Matapedia/Matane) who greeted the VIP guests to the gardens and exhibition.
The beautiful sunny weather provided the perfect day for everyone to enjoy the festivities, and be welcomed by the bagpipe playing of retired Lt. Col. Bruce Bolton, of the Blackwatch Regiment, Montreal, who piped in the VIP guests to view the exhibition inside Estevan Lodge.
The curator of the exhibition Viveka Melki, a Canadian film maker and Producer, also welcomed guests and explained the development of the touring art exhibition, and how the WAR Flowers creative team of Céline Arsenault, (Botanist and Conservator) Alexandra Bachand, (Perfumer) Normand Dumont, (Exhibition Designer) Claude Langlois (Sound) and myself, (Visual Crystal Artist) had collaborated in the execution of the project.
After guests had the opportunity to tour the multi-sensory exhibition, a presentation talk and roundtable discussion ensued with perfumer Alexandra Bachand, (from Magog, Quebec) answering questions about the ten unique scents she had created to accompany the ten crystal sculptures in the exhibition using Victorian floriography, (the symbolic meanings of flowers) to capture the timeless emotions and human elements around war, and by examining human nature through this multi-sensory experience.
Each of the ten themed stations incorporated crystal art, floriography perfume, video and historical artifacts creating a fully synthetic experience, with the beautiful soundtrack of music and sound effects by Claude Langlois, which provided an emotional ribbon which elevated the whole exhibition.
The design and creation of the 10-piece WAR Flowers crystal collection, took over a year to complete as each WAR Flowers sculpture’s were hand engraved using both intaglio (deep carving) and diamond point (stippling) techniques.
You can now view videos on how the 100 year old flowers were preserved, perfumes distilled, crystal created and exhibition designed at www.warflowers.ca
After the roundtable discussion a special WAR Flowers gourmet dinner was served by award-winning chef Pierre-Olivier Perry, of the Estevan Lodge, La Villa Restaurant, who prepared a memorable dinner with several unique courses. It was also a delight for Sarah, (my wife) and I to sit with our dinner table guests, Rémi Massé and his lovely wife Helen Thornton, as Remi, (the Liberal MP for Avignon|La Mitis|Matane|Matapédia) had been instrumental in coordinating the Ministry of Canadian Heritage funding for the exhibition with Minister Melanie Joly.
This summer over 65,000 visitors are expected to view the WAR Flowers exhibition, at Les Jardins de Metis. (Record Gardens)
– War Flowers will present the letters of Lieutenant-Colonel George Stephen Cantlie and highlight the pressed flowers found in his correspondence by linking them to 10 people—soldiers or Canadian citizens—who played a key role in Canada’s contribution to the First World War.
– It will include crystal art, sound and light effects, as well as fragrances associated with the 10 flowers and people.
– The exhibition will be displayed first at Reford Gardens, Grand-Métis, (from June to September 2017) and then travel to the Canadian War Museum, Ottawa, (from October to December 2017) Campbell House Museum, Toronto, (from Jan – March 2018) Visitor Education Centre, Vimy, France, (April – June 2018) and Chateau Ramezsay Museum, Montreal. (Dec 2018 – March 2019)