Eventually I want to start my own business that mixes flowers, desserts, graffiti art and music. I love classic heavy metal. People ask me how it will all work together and I tell them I can’t see it not working, it all connects – Ally, Sydney TAFE
Floristry isn’t something that’s normally associated with graffiti art. But for Sydney TAFE Floristry student, Ally, the two can make a happy, if slightly unusual, marriage.
Ally is currently in her first year of a Certificate III in Floristry at Ultimo Campus. And although she’s surrounded by flowers, leaves, twigs and stems, floristry has been a fairly recent, and unexpected, development in her life.
“I was a fully qualified chef. I had an Advanced Diploma in Hospitality,” she said. “But then I had a bad car accident, so I had to give all of that up.”
Ally’s injuries were so serious she was bed-bound for three months. But then a chance encounter with a complete stranger changed her life and put her on a totally new and unexpected trajectory.
“It was at the time of my sister’s wedding and there was a beautiful woman who was decorating my sister’s house with these amazing bouquets,” she said. “She was the one who inspired me to do floristry. Now she’s one of my closest friends.”
These days Ally still works in the hospitality industry but not as a chef. “I make desserts as an aside, so I still feel attached to hospitality,” she says. “It was my true passion. It still is. I never thought I’d do floristry. I didn’t think I had a passion for it. So I took my accident as a blessing in disguise because it took me to a whole new world. When you’re at home stuck in your bedroom you have a lot of time to really think. I had three months of thinking time.”
Although hospitality and floristry don’t seem to have much of an overlap, Ally has been surprised at how much the one has been able to positively influence the other.
“Sometimes there’s something I don’t understand in floristry but then I think of recipes and I approach the task as a recipe instead. It’s an integration of the two. It’s strange. My mind works in a strange way. But it works.”
Eventually Ally would like to start her own business that integrates her hospitality background with floristry, such as a café that specializes in desserts. And that’s where she’d like to bring in her other great love – graffiti art.
“I do understand why people sometimes just see it as vandalizing,” she says. “But I can look beyond that and see the art involved. It’s pure art. In Newtown there’s this particular drawing of Freddie Mercury. I see it when I’m on the train. It’s just amazing and I think Sydney should embrace this kind of art like they do in Melbourne. I can look at this beautiful piece of graffiti art and just get lost in it. Or maybe that’s just me. I get lost in the art. The funny thing is, just about the only thing I can’t do is draw.”
So does Ally have a vision for the integration of these different passions? How will they all tie in together?
“Part of my plan was for people to come in to the café and graffiti part of the wall. Get graffiti artists to come in as well as regular customers. I find that drawing and colouring in can really bring out the inner child in people. It calms adults because we’re all so hectic. So they’ll be able to sip on their coffee, eat a cupcake, smell the flowers and do a bit of random artwork on the wall. It’ll be a real sensory mix.”
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