Tell us about young Graham. What did he want to be when he grew up?
Oh young Graham, he was a bit of a daydreamer. He would often be seen by himself in a schoolbus on the way home looking dreamily into the distance. I think the young me just wanted to keep up with my peers - which oddly meant that I was going to end up as a chemical engineer. It was only when I had bad grades did I end up going the architectural route. But having said that, if you looked back at my holiday photos when I was a kid, I always insisted on taking photos when flowers so I guess it was just a matter of time that I found my path with flowers.
Who modeled success for you growing up? Did it influence your career choices in some way?
I would say that success always came in the form of my parents. They believed in hard work and putting your nose to the grindstone. By making sure that no stone was unturned, it influenced in making sure that I kept to my responsibilities and that I was capable of everything and more. I can honestly say that my parents gave up alot to help me reach to where I am and it was through perseverance and hardwork that I got a little closer to being who I aimed to be.
When did you discover flowers?
I think I have always loved flowers. My grandmother cared for me when I was younger and she loved her orchids and it definitely rubbed off on me. It wasn’t just orchids but the nuances of shapes, variety and I always could tell which ones my grandmother favoured. Also I think it was an appreciation for the natural world. Where normal people would have buildings or signs as landmarks to guide them, I would always notice trees and plants instead. Maybe it’s a crooked branch or an unusual leaf, which is something I still unconsciously do now. So perhaps it is no surprise that I ended up working with flowers.
How do you balance a full-time architecture career with floral work? Do they ever inspire one another?
Who said anything about balance? I would like to think they are two sides of the same coin and I can not survive one without the other. Much like Jekyll and Hyde, they make up a big part of who I am. They definitely inform each other; for me it is about seeing one in the context of another. I see flowers in a space as a temporary intervention that exists for a specific moment in time. Think of it as a wedding, a formality yes but one that happens at an intentional place and time. I like to think that my flowers behave in the same way - an installation that interjects in an architectural space for a moment in time. In that way, floristry to me is an ongoing study of how flora behaves in a space and our perception of it.
Where do you look for inspiration?
I look to my friends for inspiration - the artists, the florists, the lovers and friends. Most of my works are inspired by the people I do them for and the stories that come from their memories. From there, it becomes a conversation about colour and form and me racking my brain on how I translate it through the medium flowers. It never starts easy but I would like to think I reach a happy outcome each time.
One of the underlying philosophies of your work is intention. How do you practice this in your daily life?
Intention is a determination to carry out a purpose and oddly in medical terms, intention means the healing process of a wound. I would like to think that I practice intention in the best of my days, practicing a daily chore to its completion and who it might affect. It would be living with more presence and awareness - being more compassionate or living in alignment with values. I like to think that it is an ongoing practice rather than an accomplishment - so that even if no answer arises from the question, the gentle inclination of the mind is enough.
Do you have rituals to help you with your creative process?
I am honestly a person with a million things running through my mind all the time. If anything, I find that physical rituals help me settle my mind. My mom made it a habit to shower before school to wake my sleepy head, now I still practice that with a shower first thing in the morning. It gives me 10 minutes to rouse myself and plan what I need to do or accomplish for the day. They say the best ideas come in the shower, and they are not wrong. I find that in the processing of cleansing, my mind opens and is quiet for once!
Reading: To Paradise by Hanya Yanagihara (her first book A Little Life destroyed me and reached somewhere really deep inside)
Watching: Fosse/Verdon, a limited series on the legendary Broadway pair Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon and their tangled relationship, played by Michelle Williams and Sam Rockwell.
Listening to: Ink & Paint podcast series by Melbourne based playwright Daniel Lammin, a beautiful series tracking every single animated movie Disney has ever produced and breaking down its history and making.
Smelling: My favourite ‘Home’ incense from Kin of course!
Eating: White peaches, my absolute favourite fruit that makes summer tolerable!