RHS Chelsea Flower Show is an event that makes floral waves across the globe, but once again local businesses will come together to bring it all home with an abundance of accessible Chelsea Fringe festival events. The Resident meets those bringing flower power to the King’s Road
From 23-27 May, flowers, once again, will reign supreme in Chelsea, with a host of stunning Show and Artisan Gardens. Flowers mean so many different things to so many different people, which is exactly why the locals of the King’s Road are using the Chelsea Flower Show as a vehicle to bring the community together in the King’s Road Flower Power event, running from 20 May until 4 June as part of Chelsea Fringe.
Sarah Farrugia, of Chelsea-based creative and community agency Sarah Farrugia and Co, wants to celebrate the area’s rich floral history (the King’s Road was made up of an abundance of nurseries in the 18th century). She is helping to bring together floral designs, from hanging baskets to ground displays, through a collaboration of those who live, learn and work in the area.
‘It’s a cross-fertilisation of everyone involved in the community of businesses on the King’s Road,’ she says. ‘We are creating a story of the area, told by the flowers, from Sloane Square to World’s End.’
There will be a bus tour with various cultural specials to stop at along the way, which will be peppered with traditional flower carts. One of the main focuses will be a memory box installation planted in a central space with herbs, medicinal and flowering plants. The public are invited to buy a flower and place it in one of the biodegradable test tubes alongside a message.
At the moment, there is a lot of division in the world, and events like this have the ability to bring many different people together
Garden designer Matt Childs, who trained at KLC School of Design, will also be designing a Fringe installation: ‘At the moment, there is a lot of division in the world, and events like this have the ability to bring many different people together.’
He is going to be in place as a consultant to the businesses, helping them to plant their hanging baskets. ‘I am also going to do one of the ground installations,’ he says. ‘I’m really keen on using the working title of Coming Together that encourages people to be drawn to a spot and to sit in one place.’
If traditional art is more up your street, Box Galleries is hosting a Floral Focus exhibition running 23 May-6 June, where they will be showcasing a brand new collection by Emma Rimer of abstract floral originals paintings (left). Rimer is hoping that the viewer will experience discovery and wonder in her works that reflect certain landscapes that stimulate the senses.
‘What I love most about Emma’s work is the power and energy she creates,’ says Box Galleries owner Emma Moir. ‘Although there is a sense of depth and form, Emma’s loose, Pollock-esque style creates a completely unique version of a landscape. This is a must see in-the-flesh as the texture and layers are really breathtaking.’
Anthropologie welcomes London artist Bella Vernon to its King’s Road Gallery on 6 May for her first solo show, This Must be the Place. Vernon works with vintage mirrors and, using a process she has developed and refined herself, smokes the reverse of them in her east London studio to produce uniquely novel and haunting images (right).
The mirroring is removed and the remaining glass is smoked with candles to reveal the images of the everyday that surround us. For this show, Vernon will transform the gallery into a shadowy hot house of tropical plants, encompassing a multitude of individual elements to create a living space of plants, reflective surfaces and light inspired by the mysterious splendour of a Victorian Hot House.
Chelsea Fringe runs events across the capital, the UK and even the world. Find out more here
Chelsea in Bloom
And then there’s Chelsea in Bloom, of course. Now in its 12th year, it has grown dramatically since its inception in 2005, when it was first called ‘Sloane in Bloom’, and this year, a record 49 retailers are taking part. Here, Caroline Jennings of Cadogan Estate tells us why the event continues to blossom
What was the original inspiration behind Chelsea in Bloom?
We wanted to build on the incredible atmosphere of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show and celebrate something unique to the local area. We’ve been working with local retailers, restaurants and hotels to create beautiful floral displays ever since. Each year we celebrate with a different theme. We felt everyone needed a bit of escapism this year, so Floral Safari aims to bring to life exotic far-flung destinations, with a menagerie of bright and beautiful floral animals.
What does Chelsea in Bloom bring to the Cadogan Estate?
It’s one of our favourite times of the year, marking the start of the summer. There’s always an incredible atmosphere across the estate, with visitors and residents alike enjoying the bursts of colour that it brings to the streets of Chelsea. There’s no doubt that eyes around the world turn to the Royal Borough during May, and we’re thrilled to play our part in making the area look beautiful. There’s also a sense of pride for all those involved, as Chelsea in Bloom offers the perfect opportunity to show off the area at its absolute best.
What displays have stood out for you in the past couple of years?
Over the past 12 years we’ve seen some incredible displays, it’s hard to choose a favourite. Last year’s People’s Champion, the stunning Great British seaside inspired Carnivearle, was a highlight, Kate Spade’s Alice in Wonderland-inspired giant Flamingos for Fairytales, as was 2015’s Best Floral Display, Sarah Chapman’s intricate Sleeping Beauty (which she managed to make magically appear overnight, the same day that she opened her store on Pavilion Road).
The Chelsea Flower Show is such a huge event; did you ever worry something like this would pale in comparison?
Not at all. We work with the RHS to extend the Flower Show to the local neighbourhood for all to enjoy. Whether they live, shop or work here everyone seems to love the festival-like atmosphere. It’s a nice complement to the Flower Show for those visiting, or a great standalone event if you don’t have show tickets. Every year, local retailers impress with their creativity and we’ve seen some incredible displays over the last 12 years.