100 Florals Project
About Lesley's 100 Florals Project 2021-2023
The 100 Florals Project was a self-motivated peace of mind painting challenge created by the artist herself as a challenge to see her through difficult times. Inspired by blousy, frilly peonies, light and fresh freesias, humungous hydrangeas from her garden, Lesley set herself the task of making 100 paintings. She coined it the 100 Florals Project.
"Every couple of days, I'd visit the Shambles Market in York and marvel at the beauties on the stand there. I also had flowers in my garden at home which I gathered. The studio was full of scents day and night. I worked through the seasons."
Paints, brushes, vases of roses and pot plants crowded her York studio as she immersed herself in the task, working on paper and often in pairs, finding excitment in living magical colour and wild shapes. When the blooms faded, the colours become muted and the leaves crispy and expressive. This was good too.
"Working from observation, I responded to what I saw and felt - a musical mark in the sweep of a brush or a calligraphic scribble. I found myself looking for a classical English Country Garden style, so decided to use a natural beige-coloured paper. This was the turning point for me. The paper made the atmosphere perfect for what I wanted to convey. And I could work in gouache, acrylic and ink, mixing my media. But most importantly, the actual process of looking and painting really took me out of myself. The struggles and pain at that time in my family life were echoed and resolved in each piece – I found a deep sense of satisfaction and peace." Lesley Birch 2023
"I'd always wanted to paint flowers, but never found a way in. This paper choice and media combined with the flowers I found in the market and in my garden, set me on a two-year-long path - a journey of escape from mental anguish." Lesley Birch 2023