The pandemic has brought out the avid hobbyist in many of us. From baking to knitting or even amateur painting. Yet, one of the most therapeutic hobbies that arose to further popularity with the pandemic has been taking care of plants.
As we all went into lockdown and told to shelter in place for months on end, many took to starting their own little gardens or ‘bithas’. It is this rise in the hobby that inspired local artist Ryan Falzon to create his newest exhibition; Botanika.
The 13-piece exhibition, which is being curated by Justine Balzan Demajo and being held in Valletta, captures and defines the essence of a typical plant display in a Maltese home, whether it be in the form of a garden or a little corner of your room.
In his writings, which describe the mind state behind these series of paintings, Falzon creates the comparison between plants and Humans, especially in a lockdown setting, whilst also reflecting on the important lessons the care of plants can bring to our lives.
“Humans became plants in the pandemic.” Falzon writes, going on to state that like plants we became “confined to [our] space and comforted by technology, a significant number of individuals flourished alone, whilst others dwindled when the human contact was rendered minimal.”
He goes on to note that in many ways, plants have become a coping mechanism for many during the pandemic. Falzon, who himself has a passion for plants, describes how the nurturing and therapeutic nature of the hobby also came about through “an ever-increasing thirst for green within this concrete jungle” that has become our island nation.
The question of what happens to this now-beloved coping mechanism after the pandemic has also been presented. He hopes that once the pandemic is over, Facebook groups will not be flooded with posts about pots for sale.
Instead, Falzon hopes that this hobby may enrich our lives further by the importance of solitude’s tranquillity in a post-pandemic reality.
“People who keep plants are grounded in time. People who keep plants shake off the depressing darkness out of their window at 6pm knowing that the plants they hurried home to water will bloom and reward them in March” he says, reflecting on the impact that keeping plants has on our behaviour.
Compared to his other work, this exhibition consists visually of a bright palette – reflecting the positive light that plants bring to any space. The portrayal of the plants is botanically correct yet remain playfully represented in all of their glory.
Should you be interested in seeing the exhibition, you can find out more here.
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