Storytelling in the language of flowers at the ICA Live Art Festival, 12.09.2018

Flower arrangements by Murky Cornelius, Faldeia Dixon, Edmond Menyacho, Diela Gamildien, Glenda, Gairoeniesa Oliver, Faiza “Poppy” Saliem, Alison Snyders, Joan Solomons, Sandra Millie Solomons and Shafieka Williams
Storytelling floristry workshop with Karin Bachmann, Melanie Boehi, Rupert Koopman, Ayesha Price and Phakamani Xaba
Sound installation “arrangement for new flowers” by Neo Muyanga
Cape Town Floriography Papers by Nowseum, text and collage by Melanie Boehi, design by Salma Price-Nell


The initial installation of Storytelling in the language of flowers took place on 12th September 2018 during the ICA Live Art Festival at the Adderley Street flower market in Cape Town, as part of the festival programme “Untangling Colonial Ecologies” curated by Cornelia Knoll. The installation included a flower show, a storytelling floristry workshop, a sound installation and the distribution of the Cape Town Floriography Papers.


For the flower show, each stand at the Adderley Street flower market contributed a flower arrangement that told a story about history, place and belonging.


Karin Bachmann, a third-generation flower seller at the Adderley Street flower market and one half of the flower seller duo “Sisters on Adderley”, set up a mobile class room in front of her flower stand and instructed a group including botanists, conservationists, historians, artists and festival visitors in making flower arrangements. Phakamani Xaba and students and interns from Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden contributed plants from the botanical garden and shared stories about the Cape Floristic Region.


Neo Muyanga composed an “arrangement for new flowers” which was presented as a sound installation at the stand of the “Sisters on Adderley”. The Cape Town Floriography Papers, a series of flower wrapping papers that can be recycled into a newspaper about the history of flower selling in Cape Town, were distributed throughout the day. The Cape Town Floriography Papers feature an essay, archival photographs, historical postcards, a collage and images of herbarium sheets kept in the collection of the Kew Herbarium featuring plants “discovered” at the flower market in Cape Town

Storytelling in the language of flowers is supported by the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia.

Special thanks to:
All flower show and flower arranging class participants, Pro Helvetia Johannesburg, Adderley Street flower sellers and assistants, Cornelia Knoll, ICA Live Art Festival, Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, Cape Nature, Salma Price-Nell (The Salsa Creative), Tim Rüdiger, Chrischené Julius and Lailah Hisham.

Photographs by Melanie Boehi.