My Flowers

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Brendon talks about his series MY FLOWERS

Well, it’s all about my mother. She’s one of those parents who tend to see room for improvement rather than opportunities for an easy compliment.

At the opening of my first exhibition, she looked around and said, “Why don’t you draw some flowers? People like flowers.” It was infuriating. I’d spent so much time working on the pieces in the exhibition, and they couldn’t have been further from flowers. I had done bold pops of bright colour, lightning bolts and clashing patterns.

Initially I rejected the idea, but it kept playing on my mind. My mother had worked as a landscape gardener until she was forced to sell up due to ill-health, and I felt like this theme could be a way of showing her that I understood it was upsetting not to be out there anymore.

I experimented with the thinnest possible pens and started hunting for flowers in friends’ gardens in England, Ireland and Australia. The works in this series are intricate and take shape only slowly, sometimes staying as a pattern for over a month. The repetition of lines to build up shape and texture gets painful, and my hand cramps regularly.

Working on the flowers requires calm; if I’m feeling upset or wound up, I can’t do it. Even the smallest mistake can ruin a drawing. In some other series, a slip-up can be fixed, but with these I have to move with care and deliberation.

And what did Mum say when she saw them for the first time? “They should be in colour.”