"I'm obsessed with being relaxed"
A projects about Herbalism
This is a project about Herbalism,
Working under the title ‘I am obsessed with being relaxed’ I explored how Herbalism’s connections to relaxation can function in the home as furniture.
By dictionary definition, herbalism is “the study or practice of the medicinal and therapeutic use of plants, now especially as a form of alternative medicine” though the medicinal qualities of herbs hasn’t always been an alternative.
In my research I came across a lot of scientific information and facts. For example Aspirin (one of the most common medications taken for pain relief) contains acetylsalicylic acid which was discovered from a willow tree following the research of willow used in traditional herbal remedies. However, I find the abstract and spiritual theories much more fun and engaging because it offers something that feels uncertain and requires you to trust the possibility. I am more interested in these looser theories which have space for interpretation. Such as Herbalisms connection to astrology, language, and material.
In 1597 John Gerard wrote “though their beauty and variety of color and exquisite form they do bring to a liberal and gentle mind the remembrance of honesty, comeliness and all kinds of virtues.”
Florography takes the use, properties, and medicinal qualities of plants and turns the symbolism into a language. The language was very common amongst poets and slowly feed out as an almost secret messaging system until becoming popular at events such as funerals and weddings as large displays of emotion as well as decoration. With this in mind it explains why a lot of the translations are rather romantic, sorrow, anger, jealousy, or related a lot to strong feelings.
The first part of my project outcome is this chaise lounge. Throughout the project development, I have explored 75 chair design options, ranging from very abstract bean bag like forms, group seating settings, armchairs, sofas, designs for articular star signs, and compositions inspired by plant shapes, such as plants which at one point I was collecting daily to help with design inspiration as well as to form my own herbal.
The chaise lounge is made entirely out of found wood, either from around my house or the beach, such as the legs being very noticeably driftwood. At the start of the project I was concerned about the sustainability of using wood, by recycling found wood into my work I feel I’ve worked sustainably now effectively throughout my project.
The top of the chaise lounge is upholstered with a large partly machine and mostly hand embroidered surface. I started out using a tufting gun to create these blended sections inspired by abstracted forms of the plants used in the dying process. However, I felt using the tufting gun made the process too quick. In the way that Herbalism is something you apply to your life in small doses every day to gain results in the long run, I wanted to slow down the process of creating my work.
In my work I have used herbs connecting to my celestial grouping, being a Libra ruled by the planet and god Venus I have used blackberries, thyme, pomegranates, roses, and introduced lavender, rosemary, chamomile, turmeric. All the wool you see here is a hemp fiber, not cotton or plastic-based, continuing the theme of sustainability.
All the hemp wool has been dyed using plants. The softer yellow shade is a mix of lavender and chamomile, the brighter yellow is turmeric, a combination of berries produced purples, the pink and green is rather interesting. As I dyed balls of the wool in rose petals, the outside of the wool came out green and the inside pink, kind of like an ombre effect.
I introduced chamomile, lavender, and rosemary because I couldn’t ignore the large amounts of scientific research into their relaxation qualities. But mainly because of the folklore that lavender and rosemary placed under pillows or close to where you lay will prevent you from having bad dreams, word of negative energy and so on. Inspired by this and the importance of aromatherapy in herbalism, I used elements of the herb bag technique to line the upholstered section of the chaise lounge with lots of dried lavender and rosemary. When you move on the chaise lounge the lavender is crushed and releases clouds of smell which fades between movements.
The combination of herbs chamomile, red roses, lavender, rosemary, and thyme in my project in terms of Florography translates to “a love to endure hardship, courage to overcome it” with a theme of friendship from the use of lavender. To help explain how the herbs used was narrowed down, I could have used Daisies but I did not as their translation is “I refuse to communicate further with you” and when paired with other herbs such as basil becomes much harsher. I didn’t want this kind of negative connotation or symbolism in my work.
I have combined all components of my work by digitally placing the chaise lounge into the world it created, using the digital space to create an animated film in time with the track. The purpose of my video is similar to the chair in that I aim to provide a moment of relaxation amongst the internet, a space which at times, particularly now can sometimes be stressful.
The Social Distance Art Project
Hey, Look Something is Happening.