For Jake Kuit, it all started when he saw an enormous arrangement of tropical flowers he had carefully worked on for a party in London taken down the next day and sent to landfill.
- Jake Kuit has been recycling flowers for fleeting art and fashion pieces
- All the flowers in his shoots have been saved from landfill
- He said flower and single-use plastic wastage is rife in the flora industry
He was told it was cheaper to send them to the tip than recut or repropagate them.
Kuit said the flowers were robust varieties that would have been good for another three weeks at least.
“That was the moment where I knew I needed to do something because no one else was,” he said.
Kuit would ask his clients if he could reuse their flowers for his projects after events or offer to rewrap them and sell them for the price of the wrapping material.
However, it is through recycling flowers for photoshoots that he is able to best show off his creativity.
Kuit takes note of colours and shapes in flowers and sees not only potential edgy fashion pieces but also artistic statements.
He has recently returned to Australia and intends to ramp-up his flower recycling projects in his home of Wollongong, New South Wales.
Flowers as fleeting fashion pieces
Kuit gets philosophical when he talks about why flowers work as fashion pieces.
“Fashion is a stagnant industry and very one-note, so I’m trying to come across from a creative perspective as a painter and merge these industries into one.
“It sees me utilise my different skills and the knowledge I’ve accumulated over the years and that’s what I love about it.”
As soon as London came out of its first lockdown, Kuit worked on a carnival-inspired party.
The next morning, he collected a bunch of pink agapanthuses, contacted a model and photographer and quickly organised a shoot.
“Every flower on there had a second life either from a shoot, event or leftovers from bouquets, and I give them a second place of beauty.”
Turning rubbish into a floral statement
It is not just flowers that Kuit repurposes — he creatively uses other discarded items for his designs as well.
As London tries to keep its coronavirus numbers under control, hundreds of metres of warning tape that encourages physical distancing are being used throughout the city.
Kuit noticed balls of dirty tape rolling around his neighbourhood “like tumbleweeds”.
“I picked it up off the side of the road and put it with some beautiful morning light and some leftover roses from a dinner party the previous night,” he said.
Kuit said growing up on the South Coast of NSW gave him an early awareness of the impact of single-use plastic waste on the environment.
He is using his art as a way to protest wastage in the flora industry.
“Everything is wrapped in plastic, shipped across [large distances] and the carbon footprint is intense,” Kuit said.
“I want to cut back the usage of double buying and use my creativity to create something fun.”