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WAR Flowers - A Touring Art Exhibition explores human nature in wartime through floriography, sculpture and scent.
Campbell House Press Release | February 12, 2018

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From Issue No. 266 | February 12, 2018

Visit the WAR Flowers website: https://warflowers.ca
Campbell House Hours and Admission Info: http://www.campbellhousemuseum.ca

Toronto, Ontario, January 23, 2018 - During the First World War, Canadian soldier George Stephen Cantlie picked flowers from the fields and gardens of war-torn Europe and sent them home to his baby daughter Celia in Montreal so she would remember him in the event he did not make it home from that terrible conflict. One hundred years later, his touching ritual has provided the inspiration for WAR Flowers - A Touring Art Exhibition, opening Wednesday, January 24 at Toronto's Campbell House Museum.

"Campbell House Museum is excited and proud to be hosting the remarkable WAR Flowers exhibition in Toronto," said Liz Driver, Director/Curator of Campbell House. "This exhibition has already been a huge popular success on the first two stops of its five city tour, moving thousands of visitors at Reford Gardens in Grand-Métis, Quebec and then at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa. WAR Flowers is a jewel of a show, and an imaginative, innovative example of the power of art to enrich and transform our understanding and experience of history in unexpected ways."

WAR Flowers is an innovative multi-sensorial experience that examines human nature in the landscape of war through artistic representations, combining Cantlie's actual letters and pressed flowers with original scents and crystal sculptures specifically created for this exhibition, along with portraits of ten Canadians involved in the First World War.

The exhibition - developed by filmmaker and curator Viveka Melki and presented by Les Jardins de Métis/Reford Gardens (Alexander Reford, director) in Grand-Métis, Quebec - is built around Cantlie's century-old preserved blooms. Melki has reinterpreted these through floriography, a Victorian method of communicating meaning and emotion through flowers.

WAR Flowers consists of ten stations, each showcasing a variety of flower picked by Cantlie. The stations represent individual attributes associated with the exhibition's ten themes, and reflect Melki's beliefs about war and human nature. Each station also highlights a Canadian (including John McCrae, Georges Vanier, Elsie Reford and A.Y. Jackson) who embodies these attributes, and features his or her personal experiences of the First World War.

Creatively integrated into the exhibition are ten specially commissioned optical crystal sculptures by Toronto artist Mark Raynes Roberts and ten original scents developed by Magog, Quebec perfumer Alexandra Bachand. The creative team is rounded out by Céline Arseneault, librarian for over three decades at the Montréal Botanical Garden, who oversaw the conservation of the fragile 100-year-old flowers, and Normand Dumont, the exhibition's designer, who transformed Viveka Melki's creative vision into a unique sensory experience for visitors to each of the venues.

VIDEO - The Exhibition's Inspiration: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JlgTewsiMM8
VIDEO - The Exhibition's Creative Team: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LMnzNcBN4vA

The exhibition is presented at Campbell House Museum from January 24 to March 25, after which it will travel to the Visitor Education Centre at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France (May 2 - September 2) and Château Ramezay - Historic Site and Museum in Montreal (October 4, 2018-March 31, 2019).

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