Floral Connections with illustrator FLORA WAYCOTT

Floral Connections with illustrator FLORA WAYCOTT

Flora Waycott is an artist and illustrator who currently lives and works in Perth, Australia.  

She grew up in both Japan and the U.K and brings a hand painted folk aesthetic to her artwork. Her work appears on stationery, greeting cards, in books and on textiles.

Flora paints with whimsical joy the minutia of daily life. Luscious happy pot plants, her favourite patch work jacket, the quietness of a teapot, a pot belly stove, floating flowers, a tender moment, she captures it all in delicate detail.  

Her book ‘ Draw Every Little Thing ‘ a step to step drawing and painting guide was published in 2019.  We love how Flora expresses a warmth of spirit in all things, often with flowers and leaves dancing around the edges, growing out of unusual crevices representing a delightful magic of being. 

Here on the Western Port Bay we are home to native orchids and precious wild flowers. The Western Port Woodlands are five small reserves and private land at the top of Western Port Bay. The largest remnant of intact woodlands in the region, full of rare and critically endangered flora and fauna. 

We at W.P.S.C draw much inspiration from our native flora, some of our favourites being Native Buttercup or Ranunculus Iappaceus, Tufted Bluebell / Wahlenbergia and of course Pink Heath / Epacris impress, the floral emblem of Victoria. So we thought we’d ask Flora over in the great wild flower state of Western Australia, about capturing a lively essence of botanicals and how she feels about wild flowers. 

W.P.S.C: Hello dear Flora, welcome to the Western Port Supply Co Journal.

F.W: Hello Eddy and Alasdair, thank you so much for having me!

W.P.S.C: Have you read the children’s book Tashi and the Tibetan Flower Cure Illustrated and written by Naomi Rose ?!  It's a gem.

I thought I would open the conversation and talk about how nomadic people of the Tibetan Plateau feed their yaks with the goodness of wild flowers found in the spring grasslands. The pastures, left untouched over the winter have medicinal flowers that the yaks eat to stay healthy. The grasslands are protected in winter and tended to in summer. In spring, nomads heal themselves by sitting downwind from wild flowers, so that the pollens, petals and the fragrances can be carried over them by the wind, curing maladies in the breeze. A wonderful medicine for good spirit! 

Being amongst flowers does release happy chemicals dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin in humans. We certainly feel a happy chemical release when viewing your work Flora. Tell us about how you feel drawing from nature.


F.W:  What a beautiful book and thank you for your kind words about my work! I do indeed feel incredibly happy drawing from nature...also calm and content. I am constantly in awe of the colours and shapes found in nature and how the tiny seeds hold all of the information for a plant to grow...displaying a spectrum of shapes and form. My artwork is a practice where I will always be learning - and nature teaches me a lot. It is my favourite subject matter which I come back to time and time again, to revel in the process. 



W.P.S.C: What is it about the floral motif that you are drawn to? What do leaves and flowers represent to you?

F.W: To me, flowers and leaves are a symbol of so many feelings, representing joy and happiness, but also sadness as a way to offer condolences. They can represent a spectrum of emotions and I try to capture this in my art. I enjoy how the floral motif is decorative; when I worked as a textile designer, we frequently turned to floral designs as many of us enjoy wearing them on our garments. Flowers can add a special something to an otherwise plain, everyday object, decorating it and breathing life in to it. What I enjoy most of all is finding the tiny flowers which often go unnoticed, like ones growing out of a crack in a wall or blooming quietly by the side of the road whist everyone walks past it. Those are the ones I stop to look at and admire.



W.P.S.C: We are always referencing the book of Australian Wildflowers by Alec.M.Blombery, What Wild Flower Is That? It was published in 1980, a classic.

Do you have any books on botanicals you love to turn to?

 F.W: Yes, I have several favourites! I often turn to books by W.Keble Martin which I have been using since I was at university: Sketches for the Flora and The Concise British Flora in Colour. I also have a copy of Collins Wildflower Guide which I flick through almost daily. Lastly one of my favourite books is Perth Plants by Russell Barrett and Eng Pin Tay - a fantastic local plant book which has helped me to identify many flowers I have spotted here in Perth which are very different to the ones we have back home in England.



 W.P.S.C: Do you find drawing in the natural world, like being very still in the natural world, to be vibrant, mysterious and perhaps healing?

F.W: I love all of those words! Yes, all of them at different times depending on where I am. I think for me healing applies the most. I am often trying to calm my busy mind and being still in nature really does that for me, I think I crave stillness and quiet more and more.

W.P.S.C: Your note books filled with botanical studies convey both a discipline and meditation, tell us about your drawing practice and what it is to be in that flow?

 F.W:  I used to keep sketchbooks all the time and then I stopped, for many years. Only in the last year or so have I re-discovered the magic of keeping a sketchbook and it has definitely unlocked a creative flow!

My book is small - A6 size - and this helps to keep me from feeling overwhelmed by a large blank page. I usually paint small scale anyway and this enables me to fill the pages with tiny studies, experimenting with colours which I may not usually choose. I work on these pages in the mornings when the light is bright and my mind is fresh, helping to set the tone of the day.

I have recently been taking inspiration from flowers I have seen and then combining them to create imagined plants in my sketchbook pages.
I don't sketch these first, they just flow from my mind and my paintbrush moves freely...this is when I know I am in the flow. However, being in the flow doesn't happen all the time! Keeping this little book of paintings has helped me to find that flow again and I am so grateful for that.  

W.P.S.C: Your style is so beautifully folk inspired from Northern Europe to Japan to the U.K and I know your palette is very inspired by the seasons and where you are in the world. So where is a favourite place to draw in W.A ?

F.W: We are so lucky to have many beautiful spots in W.A! One of my favourite places is the Southwest region where the trees are tall and the forests are cool and quiet. It is so special down there and is the perfect spot for being amongst nature and your thoughts. 


W.P.S.C: So Beautiful! Have you seen a Western Australian Wild flower super bloom and if so how has it influenced your work? 


F.W: The wildflower season in Western Australia is a wonderful time! I do feel that I have become braver with colour, especially this year after visiting a few spots to see the blooms. I have enjoyed studying their shapes closely and applying elements of these to my work.  

W.P.S.C: What flowers to you draw when you feel happy, and what do you draw when you need to be happier ?

F.W: When I am happy, I feel like drawing anything and everything. I love to go outside and find a new plant to draw, looking closely at the ground and observing what is there. My mind is more open I suppose, allowing me to be curious about new discoveries. When I need to be happier, I paint flowers as a form of meditation. Perhaps I will paint a flower which feels removed from reality like the imaginary plants in my sketchbook. There is a sense of play with these paintings, helping me to come back to myself and relaxing in to the process.


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W.P.S.C:  During this interview I can’t type the word flower with out a flower emoji popping up and I feel there should be more to choose from! If you could create a new flower emoji what would you draw Flora? 

F.W: This is such a great question! I would create a periwinkle blue flower with a yellow centre, like a forget-me-not. They are tiny and delicate and remind me of my English granny, as this was her favourite colour and one of mine now. 



Thank you so much for contributing to this interview Flora, we love your approach to life and because it reminds us so much of your art work we will leave you with a snippet, in fact the last part of Mary Oliver's poem Moccasin Flowers. 

From Moccasin Flowers by Mary Oliver ....

'But all my life sofar
I have loved best
how the flowers rise
and open, how

the pink lungs of their bodies
enter the fore of the world
and stand there shining
and willing--the one

thing they can do before
they shuffle forward
into the floor of darkness, they
become the trees.'

Find Flora's work on her website here and in our collections at W.P.S.C