The botanical works of West London-based artist Ant Hamlyn are studies of dichotomies and paradoxes. Polarities of the organic and synthetic, comfort and danger, and preservation and destruction emerge from his sculptures, which are comprised of playful, stylized interpretations of natural life pressed under sheets of acrylic.
On view as part of his solo show Tread Softly, Hamlyn’s most recent pieces include yellow daffodils, nightshades, and a pink flowering cactus that, although alluring for their blossoms, are extremely harmful if touched or ingested in real life. This sinister undertone pervades the body of work, which broadly addresses the precarious boundary between life and death. All of Hamlyn’s squished fabric specimens, for example, are depicted at their prime while being suffocated under a polyurethane coating and plastic panel. The artist shares:
When I think about the past time of ‘pressing flowers,’ I think about how when we crush a flower to preserve its beauty, we essentially destroy it to preserve it. These works are at once a celebration and a critique. The human relationship to flowers is a complex one in the way they symbolise love and loss simultaneously. For example, we give dying flowers to each other both in celebration and in grief.