The Gymea Lily

My new art photography project I want to blog about, is on a series of portraits centred around the beautiful Gymea Lily.

I’m so excited about this! It has been bubbling away in the back of my mind for a couple of years now, and with my new website comes new beginnings.

There are so many things that are amazing about this plant. It is hugely tall. It takes 10 years to flower from a seed. The flower head is enormous, and the stages of the flowering process are so inspiring.

The flowering starts as a kind of 6 foot tall asparagus like shoot, then the pinkish bud head appears like a spear or baton, then as it grows the bud head turns into a flame like, visceral, dark, leathery, red shaped thing. Then as it opens, the bright red luminous inner flowers poke out, and the flower head starts to morph into a fork, or trident like shape.

As the flower matures, it becomes a huge bouquet head of multiple flowers with bright green stamens. It is so robust that when it does die, it looks dark, decayed and messy. It doesn’t fall off but looks like a rotting tangle of debris. Then however the seed pods appear, and as they open, you see the creamy lining of the pods.

In all this time however, I have never seen a wild specimen close up through all of these stages. There are plenty on the road sides of Sydney and Centennial Park, but they tend to get “cleaned up” after the pretty stage.

In the wild they are classed as “vulnerable” as they are often picked as an easy source.

Because of their huge heads and tall stems they are often seen in grand arrangements in hotel lobbies and special displays designed to impress.

They are found on the east coast of NSW around Sydney and Central Coast.

As I need to first source some flowers ethically without endangering them further, I’m going to the wild flower farm in Somersby at the end of this week on a fact finding mission. I will post more pics when I get back.

About the portraits.
In the studio, each photographic series will be a picture of a woman or girl with a flower depending on the matching life cycle of the flower and the person.

I imagine there are about 7 or 8 stages of life that are mirrored in this cycle. For example the asparagus spear needs to be with a young girl, the middle phased flower with a middle aged woman etc.