Valesca van Waveren lives in Amsterdam with her husband, son and cat. Every day she cycles or walks to her studio, where she makes her delightful, colorful illustrations. She also works in ceramics – a medium that has become a huge passion of hers since she discovered it two years ago. As this month’s guest blogger, Valesca gives us a peek behind the scenes of her work and life. You can also see her work at valescavanwaveren.com.
“TO PLANT A GARDEN IS TO BELIEVE IN TOMORROW” – Audrey Hepburn
Nature is my source of inspiration. And I would like to tell you about it in the hope that, like a small seed that is planted, good things will come of it. So pour yourself a nice cup of tea before you take a seat and read on, because there’s a lot to say about nature!
Whenever I travel, I always love to go to the botanical gardens of the city I am visiting. These places, which in most cases were designed and built a long time ago, are wonderfully peaceful refuges within a bustling metropolis. But more than anything, it is the diversity of the plants that impresses me most. The most beautiful botanical garden I have ever seen is in Copenhagen, but the ones in Amsterdam, Leiden and Utrecht are also great places to admire a huge variety of plants.
I created this plant-inspired print after studying the plants in Amsterdam’s Hortus Botanicus, and it is available to buy on Etsy.
German plant photographer Karl Blossfeldt managed to capture the diversity and beauty of plants like no one else. When you see his pictures, you can immediately see why architects such as Antoni Gaudí drew so much inspiration from nature. The shell-formed stairways, and the ceilings of the Sagrada Família are visibly copied from the world of plants.
It is important for me to surround myself with flowers and plants. It makes you feel like you are being nice to yourself, to your home and to nature. And it doesn’t have to be an expensive treat either – you can often buy just two or three tall, elegant blooms or even pick yourself a wild bouquet from the roadside. You can also adopt unwanted plants that people have left out on the street, or get them through an online marketplace. And how about taking cuttings from the plants you already own – have you ever tried that?
Without plants, we would be nowhere. They purify the air that we breathe, and much of our food comes from their fruit, seeds, leaves and roots. By taking good care of plants, we are also taking good care of the world and ourselves.
I am a great advocate of locally-sourced and chemical-free food, and therefore also a big fan of guerrilla gardening. Starting a garden in the middle of a boring grey urban environment, together with people from the neighborhood, has such a big impact. Planting something together, and watching these things grow, makes people feel more connected to each other and nurtures a greater sense of respect for everything that grows and blossoms around us. These are two people who have really taken the lead in this area:
– The ultra-cool Urban Graffiti man Ron Finley from South Central LA. If you haven’t seen this yet, check out his TED talk: Ron Finley’s TED talk on Guerilla Gardening.
– Pam Warhurst, the brain behind “Incredible Edible,” and a feisty lady who has – with the help of its inhabitants – transformed the English town of Todmorden into a paradise (you may well need to look beyond her English sternness, but she is, in my opinion, at least as cool as Ron Finley). Pam talks about the ‘Power of small actions’, something I believe in passionately, too:
And this, dear readers, was my last blog post. I hope I have been able to surprise and inspire you by telling you about the things that bring me joy. And a big thanks to Flow for letting me share them with you here!
For anyone who lives in or is visiting Amsterdam, you’ll be able to see my work at my TIME TO LIVE exhibition, which is being held at the Friday Next concept store until 30 November 2014.
The photo of plants (above right) is by photographer Laura Dart, and I found it on the site van Kinfolk.
Nature on my website: Valescavanwaveren.com/botanics.
Nature on Pinterest: Pinterest.com/valescavanwaveren/garden and