24th July - 9th September 2023
Featured at &Osteo Brockley SE4
The 'LOST DAUGHTER' exhibition at &Osteo in Brockley features a series of prints from a collaborative photoshoot lead by photographer Donna Ford. An exhibition of creative photographic works inspired by the much loved Ophelia Pre-Raphaelite painting by British artist Sir John Everett Millais in 1852.
Come and view the art works at 179 Brockley Rd, London SE4 2RS, from 24th July - 9th September 2pm - 5pm weekdays or 2-4pm on these Saturdays 26th August and 2nd September
Or join us for the closing event on Friday 8th September where you can meet the team, hear performances inspired by grief and have important conversations on this theme alongside viewing the images . Framed art will be available to buy during the exhibition.
"Together, we acknowledge the universal nature of grief, finding solace in shared experiences and fostering a sense of connection and understanding."
I came to this project after getting to know Donna in Peckham when she was working for a mutual friend. It soon became clear we connected over art and photography, so when her original ideas for 'Lost Daughter' were in the early stages I received a call asking if I'd be interested in collaborating on the shoot creatively! Dam Yeah was my thoughts.... Donna at this point had no idea how much the Ophelia painting and image resonated with me.
I worked on this photoshoot coming to it with a huge passion for horticultural and art therapy, after spending many years with parents and family members as gardeners, teachers and artists nature was at the forefront of my choices in therapy, as was art in all formats. The journey with this inspirational Ophelia image with its botanical references that connected me to memories of losing my father became very personal. I spent a long time researching the meanings of the individual flowers understanding the importance of how painters and writers of the time used them to communicate so much.
I've spent many years involved in gardening, floral art, photography, publishing, research and art history, that helped me connect to this project. Now as a botanical artist with a background in picture research in photography the opportunity to create together with a team about this emotive subject using flowers, nature and photography was perfect timing. The chance to step into the world of Ophelia with her story of grief and family trauma, was going to be a challenge but a good one I felt, and I knew how much I needed this after the initial traumas of the pandemic.
I was at a young age when first viewing the original Millais painting, I must have been around 13 on a gallery visit. It very quickly took me on a journey viewing the textures in paintwork technique and flower choices with many meanings, plus a keen eye for imagination - I'd be questioning the subject matter and why she would be there in the water? I left purchasing a postcard, noting how truly stunning the paintwork was so captivating and wanting to understand more about the journey of Ophelia and her story!
This process helped me identify my own experiences in the area of grief and loss with a renewed energy to continue my journey with therapy but mostly with nature as the focus.
I will be adding more to this page with details on the what floral and botanical varieties we used on the shoot along with interesting tips and facts! - check back soon...
Rosie Barratt - London based botanical artist and florist
Flower Symbolism & Memories
Through history and in my own personal experience the importance of the memories we have and place on flowers or botanicals comes from so many places. For all of us this includes our sensory memory, one example for me is the smell of cut grass coming from having gardeners for parents - our garden also had chamomile in the lawn with mint and lavender around the edges. Or me playing with rose petals smashing them into a homemade perfume for my family. These smells now invoke and symbolise positive happy memories of childhood for me.
Can you remember a time in your life a single flower or plant has had an impact on you?
The History of Flower Meanings
The language of flowers has been recognized for centuries in many countries throughout the world. They even play a large role in current art works media, society, health and community. Mythologies, folklore, sonnets, and plays of the ancient Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, and Chinese are peppered with flower and plant symbolism—and for good reason.
Take a look in to the old flower meanings
What Stems I used for The Portraits & Water images in LOST DAUGHTER photos
Forget me nots
Although the multitude of coloured flowers may seem present only to add highlights of colour to the scene, in actual fact Millais injected high intelligence into this work by purposefully sourcing symbolic flowers – all of which were painstakingly mimicked in paint to be botanically correct. Roses link to Ophelia’s nickname from her brother – ‘rose of May’ – while forsaken love, pain and innocence are shown by the willows, nettles and daisies. Pansies are symbolically similar, demonstrating love in vain, while the chain of violets around Ophelia’s neck refer to faithfulness and chastity, as well as death – a meaning tripled by the presence of poppies and forget-me-nots.
Flower meanings referenced in many articles like this one
"Step into a realm where emotions converge and the depths of sorrow find solace. 'Lost Daughter' invites you on an immersive photographic odyssey, paying homage to Shakespeare's tragic heroine, Ophelia, and exploring the profound complexities of grief as she journeys through the wild and into the water. This thought-provoking exhibition offers a poignant space to reflect, empathise, and heal as you follow Lost Daughter’s grief from land to water, amidst natural serene beauty."
"Nature was important in these set of images too firstly as the backdrop (and another character in the scene) and secondly the flowers chosen to dress the scene are symbolic and correlate to the narrative as included in Shakepeare’s original text. As a beauty- seeker, nature is necessary for my own mental wellbeing and grounding and being near water is particularly healing, teaching me about the transient nature of my emotions."
Read much more about the day we went out to create something special together here on Donna's perfectly articulated web story.
Donna Ford - London based editorial & storytelling photographer.
Lead Photographer Donna Ford
Creative director of the project and lead photographer for the shoot. London based editorial and storytelling photographer. Shoots on a Leica SL2, uses mostly natural lighting unless a flash or constant light source can add to the narrative or creativity of the subject.
Lighting John Ford
Lighting Camera Operator and Director of Photography for nearly 20 years, working on a vast range of different types of projects. He's traveled the world working for brands and charities and loves making powerful stories, especially for great causes.
Main camera is the Red Gemini and I back that up with a Blackmagic 6k. However I’m happy to work with pretty much any camera that the production calls for!
Flowers Rosie Barratt
Florist on site for the shoot, involved in the planning but also adding creatively to the ideas for we decided on how to use the botanicals to represent the true meanings of the flowers used in the original painting.