As part of an occasional series, The Age invites artists and leaders in the field to nominate a favourite local work. Lisa Byrne, director of McClelland Sculpture Park+Gallery, chose John Meade’s Love Flower.
John Meade’s Love Flower sculpture along Peninsula Link is based on an Ikebana flower arrangement by Emily Karanikolopoulos.
Following her training in the Japanese art of Sogetsu Ikebana, Karanikolopoulos grows agapanthus in her garden and as they bloom and flower, she ties the stem many times and trains it to curve slowly towards the sun. The result is an elegant and sinuously curved stem that she cuts, dries, and paints white. Meade fabricated the 10-metre-high work in carbon fibre, and at the end of each pedicel – the short stem that holds each little flower in the umbrel (the flowering ball at the end of each large stem) – fibre optic lights illuminate the sculpture throughout the night to magical effect.
For decades, agapanthus has been a popular roadside flowering plant. Native to South Africa, it is hardy and requires very little upkeep. It flowers in summer and can withstand the Australian climate. Despite its popularity over the years, it is now falling out of favour and in some areas is considered a weed that displaces indigenous grasses and ground cover. It is also toxic to humans. This change in status says something about the complexity of culture and modern life.