Ponsonby artist Georgie Malyon is addicted to working with flowers. She has over 10 years experience working for some of Auckland’s most high end florists. This creative industry led her to design her own installations using flowers mixed with hand-crafted skulls and vintage ceramic birds. In our interview Georgie shares her fascinating list of obsessions, her latest creative endeavour and how she takes her cup of tea in the mornings.
What do you do?
I have been a florist for 17 years and I have been working on my floral art for about eight years. I always had ideas about the different ways to use and see flowers, so that’s where my art started really. As much as I love making beautiful bouquets, posies and traditional arrangements, I felt I wanted to push what I could do with flowers a little more. I had been collecting religious statues for years and so I started incorporating these and taxidermy into the traditional flower arrangements I was creating and photographing it. After that I started making flat lay arrangements with handmade skulls, spray painted flowers and hand-painted backdrops.
From there my work has evolved and grown. I’ve taken it in a different direction, creating floral dreamscapes with the illusion of smoke and light floating botanicals. I love working with flowers, full stop.
What did you have for breakfast?
For breakfast, I had Vogel’s twice toasted with thinly sliced tomatoes from my garden with salt and pepper and a good cup of tea, with a dash of milk and no sugar thanks. My partner Tim makes the best cups of tea, he reckons I say that to everyone – I don’t.
What’s currently on your walls at home?
Taxidermy, a stack of vintage ship prints and paintings, religious and floral prints, velvet paintings of animals, anatomical human skull oil paintings, and in between all these the walls are dotted with friend’s art prints and a couple of mine. Also, a stack of Polaroid photos of friends at party times. My walls are covered. I’m the absolute opposite of a minimalist, but hopefully a little less than a hoarder.
If you weren’t making art/doing what you do, what would you be doing?
I have always loved dress up, costumes and makeup. So, when it’s Halloween that’s when you can pull the sewing machine out, hot glue gun, liquid latex and face paint and whip up some Halloween delights! Christmas for some weird reason, I’m not particularly fond of Christmas but for the past seven years, I have been making my long-suffering partner Tim make Christmas cards. Black metal, glitzy glamour, Krampus themed Christmas cards. I even used to post them, like really post, not just to Facebook! So, to translate that into a job, I guess I would have loved to work in film or theatre making costumes and or working in makeup making prosthetics for B grade horror films. Or I would love to make jewelry, I had the opportunity last year with friend and jeweler Chris Sheehan to make some and learn about lost casting also about wax carving. I absolutely love making jewelry and thinking about the design and researching the history and cultural symbolism that jewelry plays in the lives of people it’s fascinating to me.
I’m always at the markets and watching the second-hand auctions. You will find me at the Avondale or Browns Bay markets most Sundays and trawling second-hand shops and Trade Me. Shells, pink neon lights, vintage and new jewelry, skulls, smoke machines, plaster-of-Paris, cats, cream donuts from Tart Bakery in Grey Lynn and fresh bags of coffee from Mr. Millers on Cross Street – obsessed? Yes! These modest brown paper coffee bags which are simply branded with a stamp, well I’d even hang them around my house and car as air fresheners when I’m not drinking it of course. Hamilton Botanical Gardens totally worth a day trip. Crystals and beaded fabric. Cheese and crackers, vintage vases, Mexico, other floral artists/florists. Long pointy fingernails with glitter finishes, black dresses and black hats. Velvet curtains, peacock chairs, singer-songwriter Marlon Williams, the iconic band Pentagram and Coven. The list goes on but I will stop. Oh, that’s right number one obsession – flowers, but don’t ask which flower, just all of them.
Career highlight so far?
To be honest it was taking that first step in putting my work out there as an exhibition. The support from friends and family really blew me away. I had been working away quietly on my flower and skull series and been getting ready to share them with friends when I happened to walk past a sign at 62 Ponsonby Road that said ‘art prints’. So, from the front window I followed it past the vintage clothing store, down the hallway of contemporary furniture, and down the stairs to a room filled with prints where I nabbed a business card. Got my artwork together, emailed Elliot at Endemicworld, and after a few emails back and forth, he agreed to meet and take my work on. After that meeting I remember the drive back home, I was so happy. From there it has grown. My work has evolved, and I have taken some exciting new directions with my work.
Not sure about a big highlight but there has been lots of small victories that I am proud of. I guess a highlight for me is when someone chooses my work, when I get invited to be in a group show when I get a work into a styled shoot or interviewed about my work, it all makes me feel like I’m doing something worthwhile. I put so much time and energy into making my work. I put my heart on my sleeve. I work hard to keep making art, even when it feels really challenging, to be honest, there’s no other option for me. I’ve always been persistent at being creative in whatever form it takes.
Plans for the future?
I have always been so lucky and felt fortunate to have a home studio, but I have always wanted to have my own space that includes flowers, plants and collectibles and art studio.
I have finally got the opportunity to have this with my partner Tim Castelow, we have set up my floral art studio and collectables, Tim has set up a barber shop out the back and we have called it Greenpoint, after we spent a few weeks in New York in Greenpoint with one of my dearest friends Rose Hardy. We loved it, with a village of its small family business and it’s a little rough around the edges vibe reminded us of our little group of shops in Grey Lynn, which has a real sense of community and old-fashioned edge but with lots of potential. It’s based in Grey Lynn 566 New North Rd Grey Lynn, it used to be an old junk shop, two dollar shop and everything in between, we have even been told it was originally the police station, there still the old holding cells/drunk tank with bars on the windows out the back. So Tim and I have been bringing this little old shop back to life as best as possible; just showing it little love. No doubt in time it will be pulled down to make way for apartments, but until then, I can make flowers, sell vintage vases and curios and play shop and Tim can continue to cut hair out the back. As for a future-plan, making more art and trying different ideas is always in the future.
Build your dream concert, three acts you want to see live. Living or dead.
Honestly, this question had me thinking for quite a while, I was supposed to hand this interview in last year, but I kept changing my mind, as I could have picked 100 different bands for a thousand different reasons, but….
At the Power Station I would like to see Nirvana, Pentagram and Yeah Yeah Yeahs. I think the first ever music video that really stuck or made an impression on me was Nirvana, that moment you sit on the floor a metre away from the TV, going what the hell is this! It was a definite favourite growing up, so yeah, I would love to see Nirvana.
Pentagram would be at this dream concert, I have seen them already but would want to see them again. Tim and I saw them in Chicago, but it would be cool to see Pentagram with a big group of friends. Then the Yeah Yeah Yeahs for fun.
At the Civic something dreamy like Marlon Williams, Nick Cave and Florence with red wine on tap and all dressed in black.
At Western Springs with a hip flask of something strong, tasseled jacket and black denim with AC/DC, Black Sabbath and Fleetwood Mac all in their prime.