Maggie Matthews at the National Dahlia Collection
“We love to give flowers, expressing our most powerful feelings from the joyful celebration of love to profound grief, they mark the most important moments in our lives. Today we import most of our flowers from distant lands, but Cornwall has a rich history in farming flowers. On the Isles of Scilly in 1870 Mr William Trevellick packed some daffodils into an old hat box and posted them off to Covent Garden and so an industry was born.
Taking advantage of the early mild springs daffodils became an important crop and with the coming of the railway West Cornwall regularly supplied London and beyond. It was while crossing one of the many footpaths on the slopes opposite St Michael’s Mount that I came across Varfell Farm where “Greenyard Flowers” is the world’s largest daffodil producer, leaders in the growing and packing of daffodils. It’s not just daffodils grown here as I was about to find out, but spectacular fields of Agapanthus and Amaryllis. Following the sign to “The National Dahlia Collection” I wandered into the most spectacular field filled with every vibrant colour and form of flower you can imagine. I returned many times over the coming months with my sketchbook and camera in hand. It wasn’t long until I met the production manager of the collection Louise Danks and Gilles Deprez. Louise and Gilles explained that the collection holds over 1,600 new and heritage varieties, a real national treasure.
This exhibition brings together the body of work which was to follow, I hope you find it as colourful and vibrant as The National Dahlia Collection, and if you ever get chance to visit the collection in the summer months you won’t be disappointed.”
Maggie Matthew’s solo exhibition for Cornwall Contemporary in 2018, was an in depth look at the National Dahlia Collection near Penzance. Maggie has always used nature as the inspiration for her paintings, whether looking into rock pools, or in hedgerows and then abstracting the on site drawings into paintings in the studio, and this exhibition explored the floral patterns and shapes of the extensive collection of dahlias on the outskirts of Penzance.
Sarah Brittain-Mansbridge, director of Cornwall Contemporary with Maggie Matthews, surrounding by beautiful dahlias from the National Dahlia Collection, whilst hanging Maggie Matthews’ In Bloom exhibition.
The exhibition got off to a flying start with a very busy private view and lots of red dots. There was a huge amount of interest and many reviews about the exhibition including features in Cornwall Today Magazine, Manor Magazine and the Western Morning News.
You can view Maggie’s paintings in the exhibition here