We’re Wild About These Wild, Fantasy Botanicals

All too often, we take nature for granted.

Little things, like the trees that line the streets, leaves that fall to the ground or the small patches of flowers by the roadside, are often passed completely unnoticed, much less appreciated, thanks to our super busy urban lifestyles. But take one look at Priyanka Shah’s #100DaysOfFantasyBotanicals Instagram series, for an reintroduction to how weird and wonderful the natural world really is.

Priyanka’s fantasy botanicals, which are created from an assortment of real plants, features some of the strangest creations you’ve ever seen. She beautifully dramatizes the patterns, structures and colours of quite ordinary petals, stems, roots and leaves, which has the effect of making each piece appear caught in a confusion of reality and fantasy, evoking curiosity and wonder.

We spoke to Priyanka about her unconventional series. Here’s what she had to say:

1) Tell us a little about yourself

I’m a Mumbai-based graphic designer and visual artist. After having worked with Grandmother India and Alok Nanda & Company, I now work on branding and design projects on a consultant basis.

Off and on, I indulge in side projects and work with people from other creative fields like printmaking, fashion or immersive experiences. It is exciting to see what happens when two creative minds and disciplines come together.

2) How would you describe your creative style?

Aesthetically, I have always kept it simple, clean and to the point with an interesting play of colour.

However from time to time I like to reinvent; try new styles and techniques to break the monotony and bring in an element of surprise. Art and design should evoke an emotion in you. Be it happy, sad, disgust or even horror, it should move you in some way or what is the point?

3) Where does your fascination with plants come from? And has your art always been inspired by the natural world?

I guess it runs in my blood, from nani to mum to me. I’ve grown up eating guavas, tomatoes, ginger, chillies, basil, etc. from mum’s garden. So the fascination started early on, appreciating the little details—the veins of a leaf, a cluster of buds or the different caterpillars that visit the garden.

Yes, nature has always played a big role. I have a collection of leaves, twigs and flowers from everywhere I’ve been. I even saved logs of the tree that they cut down outside our house which are now used as benches in the garden. Watching nature, art and design come together is very exciting for me. Earlier I enjoyed illustrating botanicals, but this time I decided to step it up a notch.

4) How did you dream up 100 Days of Fantasy Botanicals?

There was a rose stem and a frangipani flower lying on the table. I tied the two together with a thread and I had a new plant.

“What if I could design my own plants?” I wondered. Coincidentally, Elle Luna’s #100daysproject happened to start on that very day, so I quickly posted a picture of my creation with the hashtag #100daysoffantasybotanicals.

This project was an opportunity to explore a new subject, something I hadn’t seen before or had no clue where it would head. But there is beauty in going with the flow.

5) How do you go about creating each piece?

I dream up characteristics and forms for different botanicals. But not all of them can be executed the way I imagine them.

A lot of it depends on the elements I find around me—on my way to work, at the park, from mum’s garden, at a nursery. I come home, see what I have and sometimes an idea emerges from my find of the day. I shoot it on my phone against a coloured background using natural light. It is as simple as that. So far I have only played with elements from different plants, but I wish to explore other materials to add a touch of drama and fantasy.

7) What do you want others to take away from your work?

There is tremendous beauty in nature and that only if everyone looked around more carefully they’d notice things they’ve never seen before and they’d see it differently every time.

Most people have told me how they’ve never come across a project like this before which makes me really happy considering almost everything is tried and tested and it is a constant struggle to create original content in that sense.

Now, if this series doesn’t make you take a longer look at the nearest tree the next time you step out of your building, well, we don’t know what will. Follow Priyanka on Instagram for a steady stream of fantasy botanicals.

Interview by Pavi Sagar


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