Rachel Stratton

Apollo’s Lover, 2023

76 × 56 cm
The inspiration behind “Apollo’s Lover” can be traced back to a painting series initiated in 2020, which draws upon the profound impact of the natural world, particularly flowers, on human history. In this series, I delved into the meaningful messages conveyed by flowers, transcending their beauty to symbolise the events and emotions we experience in our daily lives.One source of inspiration for this ongoing project was an article written by Jo Ellison in 2015, where she described the flower-adorned streets of Paris after the 2015 attacks – “The silent messengers we return to, again and again, flowers fill the space the words we seek die in our mouths. They are the world’s great interlocutors – the universal linguists.” The tale of Apollo and his beloved Hyacinthus also played a significant role in shaping this concept. In homage to his beloved, Apollo caused a flower to spring forth from the spilled blood of Hyacinthus.This flower wasn’t the modern-day hyacinth we know today.Most accounts suggest that it was likely an iris, as the myth describes how Apollo inscribed the sound of his grief on the petals of the flower. The artwork captures this narrative, with Apollo’s bust as its central focus, adorned by a captivating arrangement of irises representing his beloved.These irises draw inspiration from the artistic brilliance of Dr. Lisa Cooper, a renowned florist in Sydney.Drawing from two of her arrangements, the artwork portrays the profound play of colours, transitioning from darkness to light. This evocative representation poignantly mirrors Apollo’s melancholy and sorrow, while also symbolising how flowers served as a conduit for expressing his deep love for Hyacinthus. The harmonious interplay of colours and symbolism in the artwork vividly illustrates the significant role flowers played as interlocutors in this timeless tale of love and loss.

I grew up in the far northwest of New South Wales on a property located 40km outside Coonamble. After completing boarding school, I moved to Sydney to pursue a degree in Interior Architecture at UNSW. Currently, I am employed full-time as an Interior Designer, specialising in the commercial and hospitality sectors, and I have been working in this industry for over 9 years.

Alongside my professional career, I have always had a strong passion for art, particularly in the fields of drawing and painting. Over the last 3 years, I have dedicated more time to my artistic pursuits, focusing on large-scale watercolour flower paintings and delving into the world of botanical art. Growing up surrounded by nature has always provided me with inspiration, and I find it only natural to explore the profound influence the natural environment has on people through my art.

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