Flowers invariably bring happiness, whatever be the season or occasion. A little piece of nature brings cheer to even drab and shabby indoors. What if they last forever?
We are indeed talking about artificial flowers yes, but not the machine-made gaudy satin flowers, with sparkling stamens. George Fernandez of Oottukuzhy is an expert at making flowers out of the most unexpected objects - rice is just one of them. He mixes colour to rice, just the right shade as in nature, grinds the paste till the tiniest grain is gone and moulds it into the most beautiful of wild flowers.
What is unusual is that even the containers that hold the blooms are designed and created out of various materials by George. What might seem like driftwood, is George’s creation - artificial wood is what he calls them. “I design the containers first and then I think of the kind of flowers that will match with it,” says George.
Thinking about flowers is what he does in his courtyard, by gazing at the natural flowers for hours together. “Each flower not only has a unique shade but unique texture too and understanding it is very important in selecting the material with which to make the flowers,” explains George.
The material varies from cooked rice, ceramic, clay, lamasa, bread, wax and cloth. George’s roses, be they the lovely pastel shaded buds or the pale lilac and pink full blooms, are all fragrant, for they are made of the most fragrant toilet soaps. “They would have the fragrance for at least three months,” says George.
But a couple of arrangements of roses and orchids might be the only exotic flowers in his creations. Most others are the ones you see on the road like the yellow lantana made of lamasa clay, the pale yellow pumpkin, ash gourd and bitter gourd flowers that you see in the backyards of most homes, tridax that come up by waysides, the wild gloriosa that you see in the countrysides and George’s favourite - cherry blossoms. George never throws away leftover bread. You guessed it right - he makes flowers out of them. A unique work with bread is the bunch of dry flowers, arranged neatly in a wooden box.
Another one sure to catch the eye is a twig of mulberry plant, with purple-red mulberry fruits. The most delicate of his creations are those made of wax, often coupled with candles, that could be right for church altars.
For the ‘pooja’ room, George has a unique brass ‘thaali’, with a betel leaf in cloth on which are the flowers which are believed to be auspicious for prayers - ‘arali’, ‘kanakambaram’, ‘pichi’, ‘thetti’ and ‘thulasi’, all artificial.
The other little works of art have the perfect containers for your dining table - be it the ceramic swan that holds roses made of soap or the two ladles that hold the rice flowers, open and closed books that again hold soap flowers or even the driftwood that is created out of ceramic and other artificial ingredients. Some of the works have little birds made of paper pulp, while some others have the tiniest of ladybirds sitting pretty on a green leaf.
It is not often that George Fernandez holds an exhibition-cum-sale of his works. One can see works of George at the ongoing exhibition at the Museum Auditorium, Thiruvananthapuram.