Neither fortunes nor flowers last forever

Neither fortunes nor flowers last forever is a series of workshops led by local florists that look at non-western approaches to flower arranging and illuminate diverse cultural histories of plants and flowers. Each workshop also features a critical discussion that asks questions about colonial histories, cultural appropriation, and our current climate crisis.

Scarborough Museum, 2019, commissioned as part of In Residence curated by Aisle 4.

Workshop 1: Flower Arranging with Inspiration from Chinese Brush Paintings

Led by Allison Chow of Posy Gang, with conversation led by artist Shellie Zhang

Allison Chow of Posy Gang spoke about her journey to flower growing and floral design, beginning with her lessons in Chinese brush-painting as a young girl, and the ways they inform her current design aesthetic. Looking at Allison's grandmother's brush-paintings, we learned about East Asian philosophies to gardening and flower arranging.

Participants created their own flower arrangements using flower frogs, chinoiserie dishes, heirloom chrysanthemums, and other flowers from Posy Gang's cutting garden.

In conversation with Shellie Zhang, we discussed how the cut flower industry in North America was established by East Asian immigrants during a pre-WWII era of exclusion laws and throughout Japanese internment. We also spoke about ideals of femininity, floral patterns, homage, and cultural appropriation.

Posy Gang is a floral design studio and cutting garden based in Whitby, Ontario. Established in 2016, Posy Gang is owned and operated by Allison Chow, who is passionate about growing flowers sustainably and sharing their beauty. She specializes in creating seasonal, garden-inspired floral arrangements for both special events and everyday occasions.

Shellie Zhang is a multidisciplinary artist based in Tkaronto/Toronto, Canada. By uniting both past and present iconography with the techniques of mass communication, language and sign, Zhang’s work deconstructs notions of tradition, gender, identity, the diaspora, and popular culture while calling attention to these subjects in the context and construction of a multicultural society. She is interested in exploring how integration, diversity and assimilation is implemented and negotiated, how this relates to lived experiences, and how culture is learned, relearned and sustained.

Photos: Polina Teif

Using Format