Wianek, Polish for flower crown or wreath is composed entirely of repurposed and reworked materials realized during my 2010 artist residency in Białystok, Poland. It was inspired by the local mix of naturalized spaces and curated spaces as well as traditional rituals. Comprised of my hand cut “wildflowers” made from used paper packaging, along with artificial flowers collected from cemetery waste bins, this “flora” was bound together with discarded wire found at a construction site in former military warehouses. The piece is loosely installed on a wall using small branches in strategic positions to support the braided wires in a circular formation.
Wreaths and floral crowns have been used for centuries to mark transitions, symbolize continuity, fertility, and to honour the deceased. The work wianek, its circular form, both lively and fluid juxtaposes with Its blackness, instinctively heavy, almost charred. It considers the cycle of life, time and change.
While in Białystok I witnessed rapid daily changes from naturalized spaces being bulldozed and reconstructed into built environments with mono-crop plantings leading to the loss of diverse habitat. This phenomenon is happening worldwide. The hand cut “wildflowers” in juxtaposition to the artificial, manufactured funerary flowers braided into the wreath invites contemplation on habitat. Can we allow space for naturalized habitats and encourage diversity in our built environments? Can we re-energize our relationship with the natural world by planting more native plants that are well adapted to the climate and nurture both ourselves and a multitude of species? We have agency in making these choices.