WAR FLOWERS opened on Friday, October 20th, at the stunning Canadian War Museum in Ottawa, which was designed by Canadian architect Raymond Moriyama. The building which rises in the east to a large fin, is clad in copper with small windows that spell out in Morse code “Lest we forget” and its French equivalent, “N’oublions jamais” the perfect backdrop for this new exhibition.
Retired Lt. Col Bruce Bolton, of the Blackwatch regiment (Montreal) opened proceedings piping in the VIP guests. Stephen Quick, the Director General of the Canadian War Museum, and Alexander Reford, WAR Flowers historian and the Director, of Les Jardins de Métis/Reford Gardens, welcomed guests to the opening reception of the WAR Flowers touring art exhibition.
The WAR Flowers crystal collection can be viewed in the LeBreton Gallery where the Vimy Memorial sculptures are on permanent display by the late Canadian sculptor Walter Allward. (which he created between 1925-30) They are now the only legacy of Canada’s most important memorial commission in which the artist’s own hand is clearly present. The stone memorial and figures in France are the work of professional stonecarvers working from his designs.
Viveka Melki and Alexander Reford worked closely with the Canadian War Museum team of Stacey Barker (Historian) Caroline Dromaguet (Director of Exhibitions) and Molly McCullough, (Content Supervisor) in creating this unique and moving exhibition.
During World War 1, Lt. Col George S. Cantlie plucked flowers from the fields of war-torn Europe, sending them home to his baby daughter Celia in Montréal. Those 100 year old flowers have now been preserved, and are part of a unique multisensory exhibition curated by Viveka Melki, who uses floriography – the Victorian language of flowers to create an immersive experience featuring Cantlie’s letters, Mark Raynes Roberts, specially commissioned crystal sculptures, and original flower-based scents, created by Perfumer, Alexandra Bachand, which have been interwoven with the personal stories of ten Canadians directly involved in the war
“WAR Flowers is the story of humanity’s unfailing ability to find beauty, even in times of war. If war is a story we are doomed to repeat, then innocence appears to be its eternal partner. As these flowers have never been separated from their letters, so has war ever been part of humanity’s story. It has left its imprint on our earth, as pollen stains paper…” Viveka Melki
The VIP opening reception at the Canadian War Museum, in Ottawa, attracted hundreds of guests, several Ambassadors and Members of Parliament including Denis Lemieux, (MP Chicoutimi- LeFjord) Diane Lebouthillier, (Minister of National Revenue) Rémi Massé (MP Avignon-La Mitis-Matane-Matapédia) Alexander Reford, (Director Jardins de Metis) and Jean Rious, (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence.)
Viveka Melki, the curator of the WAR FLOWERS was interviewed by CBC Radio, and also by Kevin Gallagher for the CTV National News, about the moving World War 1 inspired exhibition which will travel next to Campbell House Museum, Toronto, (Jan 24 – March 25, 2018, before heading to the Visitor Education Center, Canadian National Memorial, Vimy, (France) April 9 – Sept 9, 2018, before returning to Château Ramezay Museum, Montreal , Oct 4, 2018 to March 31, 2019.
For more information on Exhibition Dates: www.warflowers.ca