We’ve had Mary Delany lingering in the back of our minds since reading about her in the New York Times Book Review two months ago, in a review of The Paper Garden by Molly Peacock. Delany is the artist behind over 1000 beautiful botanical collages, like the one seen above, which use nothing but paper and a few found bits to recreate flowers and other plant-life in astonishing detail.
What speaks to us about Delany, however, is not just the richness of her work but the sadness and triumph in the story behind her art.
Delany did not create her first “paper-mosaic” until the age of 72. After having suffered through a dreadful first marriage and losing a second, cherished husband, she took to art in a time of grief and found herself newly inspired. “I have invented a new way of imitating flowers,” she wrote, and indeed she had, by “mixing pigments, dissecting plants and occasionally adding parts of them to her compositions.”
But what takes the cake is that Delany’s process was practically based on accident.
The story goes that Delany just happened to notice a geranium petal fall nearby a piece of paper that matched it in color, and this sparked her first flower piece. Of all the happy accidents, this one ended as part of the permanent collection at the British Museum.
Delany’s story brings to mind so many of the people we know who are struggling with some kind of loss or facing a difficult transition and can’t quite find a way forward.
She reminds us that not only could your newest muse be as simple as a flower petal on the coffee table, but that there is no wrong time for inventing something new.