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Exclusive interview by Swallows and Damsons florist Anna Potter

Posted by Lucy H on 30th May 2019

Exclusive interview by Swallows and Damsons florist Anna Potter

What are your influences in art and literature – Van Gogh is mentioned, who else inspires you? Is there a particular ceramic artist you’d like to work with for your arrangements?

Anna: There are so many, I don’t know where to start! I’d say I find most of my influences are in art, poetry and literature. T.S Eliot, John Ruskin, Rumi, Rainer Maria Rilke, Georgia O’Keefe and of course the Dutch Master Painters - Rachel Ruysch being my favourite. I’m so lucky to work with local ceramic artists such as Grey Suit Clay and Pottery West, but I’d also love to work with Frances Palmer whose work is just incredible.

The Flower Fix

You’re clearly very creative and imaginative. Do you practice any other art as well as flower arranging? If not, what would you like to try?

Anna: That’s so kind of you to say, thank you so much. I studied Fine Art at University where I focused most of my attention on painting and photography. It’s partly why I was initially so attracted to Instagram. It felt like such a natural platform to practice photographing the flowers I had designed.

Japanese flower arranging – Ikebana – is hugely formal. Is any formal training needed to create the incredible arrangements that you display on your website and Instagram feed?

Anna: There are so many ways of learning skills currently other than just formal training. Classes, workshops, books and online tutorials. We talk about the importance of play and experimenting a lot, this part of the creative process can help an individual find their own style more than any formal training.

The Flower Fix

Foraging and wildflowers – do you prefer working with hothouse flowers or wildflowers? Which do you think reflect your personality and style best?

Anna: I prefer garden style arranging - naturally grown flowers with wonky stems and mottled leaves, and weathered branches. Hothouse flowers are so readily available so we’ve worked out a balance whereby these more structured flowers play beautifully alongside the wilder scrappy foliage and flowers.

We’re in peak allergies and hayfever season – how do you manage with clients who have allergies? Is it ever a problem?

Anna: It’s never actually been a problem. Occasionally we’ve had a bride with hayfever where we will be careful to use flowers without pollen. You can achieve a really wonderful look with foliage and seed heads and less of the scented blooms that might cause an allergy.

We’re very excited about your forthcoming book. What prompted it? Did it evolve from your Instagram account?

Anna: Thank you! We are so excited about people reading it! It really evolved from the blog posts and projects myself and India had worked on together. We’d built a rhythm to the way we work and it felt like such a natural step to create something tangible.

Who do you think is your typical reader, if such a person exists? Who would you love to read your book?

Anna: I’m hoping the book will inspire those who have a passion for flowers and nature but wouldn’t know where to start. That they might presume you need a qualification to arrange flowers and this book is a place to begin. Likewise for those who have been florists for years and it’s become a chore or a job that has to be done. I’d love the book to refresh the way working with flowers even to earn a living is seen by offering a different perspective.

Can you tell us about your most memorable commission? And what is your dream commission? (If you haven’t already achieved it!)

Anna: We recently worked on the couture feature fashion shoot for Harper’s Bazaar, creating dreamy meadows and scenes.

You talk about the importance of flowers in the workplace – what would you recommend for our office? (None of us suffers from hayfever!)

The Flower Fix cover

Anna: Something simple and scented, nothing that distracts too much with fuss or mess. A simple arrangement that shows of the flowers with a lifting and calming scent.

Thank you very much for your time, Anna, and best of luck with your book.

Anna: Thanks for your lovely feedback on the book! 

The Flower Fix: Modern arrangements for a daily dose of nature is available from our website here.