British artist Helen Ahpornsiri brings whole new meaning to botanical illustration with her incredible artwork made from pressed flowers and leaves. Her delicate compositions depict the diversity of the natural world, from mammals and birds to insects and sea creatures.
Using real flowers, petals, stems, and leaves, Ahpornsiri responsibly forages her materials from her own garden and local nature spots. Each botanical component is carefully chosen to celebrate its natural form, and in some works, the artist even uses specific components to correspond with her subject’s natural habitat. In one piece, a seahorse is crafted from tiny pieces of red marine algae, and in another, a majestic blue whale is made entirely from pressed seaweed. “The marine algae I use is foraged from beaches on the south coast of England,” Ahpornsiri reveals. “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.”
Other works simply give a new lease on life to dying botanicals, allowing them to become part of the artist’s floral-patterned creatures. “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 says, “and they are relatively easy to grow.”
Before arranging her illustrations, Ahpornsiri has to first press each piece of foliage for around one to six weeks. Once flat, the flowers and leaves are ready to arrange on paper. The artist explains, “Each piece is then cut and delicately positioned to form detailed illustrations; all brimming with the intricate twists and tangles of plant life.” Looking closely at Ahpornsiri’s work reveals just how incredibly detailed each illustration is. This artist sure has an incredible amount of patience—and a steady hand!