When it comes to botanical illustrations, one of the world’s best is England-based artist Helen Ahpornsiri (pronounced Ahh-pon-si-ree). Her exceptional artwork is made from humble elements of nature – pressed flowers and leaves.
Through her intricate compositions, she is able to present the diversity and beauty of the natural world. Some of her works include images of whales, birds, insects, and sea creatures.
Using real flowers, stems, petals, and leaves, the artist responsibly gathers these materials from her own garden and from local spots that have them. Helen makes sure her art doesn’t disturb nature’s flow. Talking about the tiny seahorse she made out small pieces of red algae, she said:
“The marine algae I use is foraged from beaches on the south coast of England,” Helen revealed. “I search for loose pieces of marine algae along strandlines and in rockpools, especially after stormy seas, to avoid being disruptive to the surrounding ecosystem.”
Helen earned her Illustration degree from the University College Falmouth. She works using diverse mediums, such as papercraft, ink, fabric, and, most recently, pressed leaf. It all began when the artist became inspired by paper cutting and collage during her time at the university. She then tried her hand at fern illustrations and experimented with the material.
“When drawing a Fern Weevil in ink one day, just for a personal project, I wondered if I could create one with real fern. I already had some beautiful fronds from a Japanese Painted Fern pressed and waiting to be used for something. I have been collecting, pressing and making ever since!” the artist wrote in an email.
Some of her works give a new purpose to an otherwise withering plant, allowing it to become a part of her lovely botanical illustrations.
“I prefer to use fern and common wildflower species as I like the idea of giving something unassuming, or thought of as a weed, a new narrative,” she said. Another characteristic that adds to this material’s appeal is that it’s easy to grow.
Before putting together her flower-themed creations in her East Sussex studio, Helen presses each piece of foliage for one to six weeks. Once they’ve flattened and dried up, the flowers and leaves are ready to be arranged on paper.
It’s important to note that the plants are preserved in their natural colors. Helen doesn’t use any paint or dye to make them appear brighter.
“Each piece is then cut and delicately positioned to form detailed illustrations; all brimming with the intricate twists and tangles of plant life,” Helen said, explaining a step in her delicate process.
An up-close view of her work would reveal just how immensely talented this artist is. Each illustration is so detailed, we can be certain that only an artist with a tremendous amount of patience, imagination, and a steady hand can yield such jaw-dropping results.
You can watch Helen’s process of creating artworks made out of flowers below. If you’re so inspired by her work and talent, you can purchase her illustrations as prints and more on Etsy.