tulip fever ― heidi woodhead

When spring arrives, Handmark Gallery will explode in a colourful riot of flowers as Heidi Woodhead presents her latest works. And it’s one of the world’s most fascinating buds that takes centre stage in Tulip fever.

Rich with detail and opulence, Heidi’s lush still life paintings are set against moody backdrops in classical style. But, in this outing of oils on canvas, she injects “more colour and pattern to bring a sense of celebration and opulence.” Yellow tulips freshly plucked from the garden are framed by a sea green wall, while a mixed bunch is draped on a delft plate. “I loved the colours that played in that piece with tulips set against the blue and white china.”

Heidi seeks inspiration from the Dutch Golden Age of the 1630’s, where tulips became the ultimate status symbol sparking a speculation frenzy. Dubbed Tulip Fever, “this era in history fascinates me, as the hunger for the exotic and rare, reached fever-pitch.” Ironically, there was no greater prize than the so-called ‘broken tulips’ with the vividly streaked petals that were actually caused by disease.

In one of her most striking works, these beautiful broken treasures are captured under a glass cloche. Refracting light brings a slightly distorted perspective. “I have aimed to paint that fever-pitch of beauty, of exploding colour and light with just a hint of the underlying darkness, a peripheral vulnerability not entirely apparent, that gives a haunting quality to the work.

Heidi Woodhead’s Tulip Fever exhibition runs from September 1 – 18.