PressOn cultivates giant blooming living painting

Having wrapped an entire ex-Royal Navy warship, the ‘Dazzle Ship’, and received a 2015 Fespa Gold Award for its troubles, PressOn was sought out by the Flower Council of Holland to produce an innovative piece of print for its giant ‘living painting’, visible between 2 and 7 June on a wall of London’s National Gallery to complement its Dutch Flowers Exhibition.

What did the job entail?

The Flower Council wanted to put a 4.6x6.2m print of flowers behind 26,500 real-life blooms to recreate Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder’s A Still Life of Flowers in a Wan-Li Vase.

PressOn joint managing director Nigel Webster said that in the initial briefing meeting, the Flower Council wasn’t really sure how to go about this.

“What interested us was the brief, it was like ‘this was what we want to do but we have no idea how to do it really’,” he said.

How was it produced?

Kent-based PressOn had to work to a tight deadline to produce the 12 2.4x1.2m sections that would make up the installation.

The £3m-turnover company printed the sections on an HP Latex 3500 and ended up using a wetstrength paper with thousands of slits cut into it to hold the flowers in place, using its Kongsberg digital cutter. Behind the print were giant slabs of reservoir foam, which retain water to keep the flowers alive.

What challenges were overcome?

Webster said it took a long time to come up with a way of holding the flowers in place while also keeping them alive. He said: “The foam needed to be wet to hold the flowers together so they didn’t die. Our paper helped in keeping that wallpaper in place on each section. We had to have something that wasn’t just going to drop to the floor.”

The time in which PressOn had to complete the job was also a challenge.

What was the feedback?

Flower Council of Holland UK marketing manager Chanel de Kock said: “Nigel (Webster) did find the project quite stressful because it was so specific but it’s amazing how we pulled through and PressOn was absolutely fantastic. I have rarely worked with a printer so dedicated and so involved.”