March 07, 2020

A floral background

By Sophie Harpley
A floral background

A lifelong love of floral print might just be imbedded in my DNA. Both sides of my family are creative. My dad made a whole wheelbarrow of paper flowers for a school project (he then became a scientist) and my mum is a very accurate botanical painter. My granny sewed everything herself, from clothes to curtains and so does my mum. So I grew up surrounded by the comings and goings of floral cloth. I still have scraps of Liberty print that my granny made so many dresses from. When my parents married in the 1970's their bridesmaids wore Laura Ashley. My mum continued to be a devotee and as Laura moved from dresses to interiors, mum went along too. I think most of the curtains in my childhood home were Laura Ashley fabric and my granny and mum would make them together - heaving the long bolts of cloth around on our dining room table. And there I was of course, collecting the remnants for my own little crafts.

Wes Anderson style cub scout with handmade paper flowers, 1950s
My dad with his handmade paper flowers, c.1960

Several of the photos bellow were taken by my Italian grandpa, a keen photographer with a great eye. We have boxes of his original film rolls, negatives and slides that you can only view through a special eye-piece. I love family history and the stories it uncovers. Even further back we have embroiderers and even Italian court painters! I will dig those out for another story one day...

Matching mum and daughter Liberty print floral dresses
Matchy, matchy: granny and mum in homemade Liberty print dresses, 1970s
Laura Ashley bridesmaid in floral print dress
Mum and her Laura Ashley bridesmaid, 1970s
1950s woman wearing floral dress, sewing at a Singer sewing machine, with patterned fabric
My granny in the 1950s, at her Singer sewing machine. She wears a Liberty print dress she made herself.
Mother and daughter sitting by the sea wearing floral prints
My mum and granny at the beach in Cornwall, 1960s. Granny even made swim suits for herself and her two daughters!
Little girl in 1950s wearing floral Liberty print dress
My mum, late 1950s in yet another handmade Liberty frock!
young girl in 1980s floral dress
1980s, I arrive to pick up the floral baton...
Posted in Biographical Flora & nature