In July we visited Buen Retiro Park, a 125 hectare public park in the centre of Madrid. The park once belonged to the Spanish Monarchy until the late 19th century. The park is filled with beautiful gardens, sculptures, monuments, lakes and palaces. The Velázquez Palace and the Glass Palace are both within the grounds of the park and are now used as exhibition halls by the Reina Sofía Museum.
We visited the Glass Palace (Palacio de Cristal), a stunning glass and cast-iron pavilion built in 1887, to see the exhibition by Kosovan artist, Petrit Halilaj. My daughters were mesmerised by Halilaj’s gigantic flowers. Suspended from the glass ceiling, they appeared to be floating in the blue summer sky.
The overwhelming beauty of Halilaj’s artwork had a deep impact on my daughters so I decided to use his focus on a single, dominant flower as the basis of an ikebana lesson for them.
The seasonality of sunflowers made them a perfect choice for this lesson. To ensure that the focus was on a single, dominant flower they used both dry and fresh aspidistra leaves. Rummaging through our garage, my daughter found a box of dried aspidistra leaves. She was immediately attracted to several with beautiful shapes and curves.
Having selected a vase, she opted to use a kenzan and arranged the dry leaves; one placed in the kenzan and the other placed upside down.
A single sunflower was placed behind the leaves to obscure the stem. As the arrangement needed a bit more life and movement, she chose one fresh aspidistra leave and placed it low and through the arrangement.