Belfast, 1963. Floristry in the UK today cannot be understood without mentioning the name of Shane Connolly. Born in Northern Ireland, from an early age he felt attracted to horticulture, but it was not until he met the great Michael Goulding OBE that he decided to devote his life to floral art. In 1989 he created his own studio: Shane Connolly & Company.
A strong advocate of seasonal flowers grown in Great Britain, his work is striking for its organic approach: he chooses flowers for their intrinsic qualities and his designs manage to bring those traits out even more. His style is often described in a way that is apparently contradictory: extravagant and at the same time unpretentious. Perhaps the elegance that pervades all his creations is the unifying feature of his unique vision, which has led him to work throughout Europe and as far away as the United States, South Africa and India.
In the UK, he has decorated some of the most prestigious venues in the country, such as the Victoria & Albert Museum and the Royal Academy of Arts, both in London. His customer portfolio consists of leading companies and highly distinguished clients, with the British royal family at the very top of the list. He designed the bouquet and flowers at the wedding of HRH The Prince of Wales and HRH The Duchess of Cornwall in 2005 and was artistic director at the wedding of TRH The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in 2015, creating what was quite possibly one of the most seen and most memorable botanical installations in recent years. That “forest” of maples and hornbeam inside Westminster Abbey, which were replanted after the ceremony, and the flowers gathered from the royal gardens, were unforgettable. And here lies another key to Connelly’s art: long before sustainability was the topic of endless op-ed articles, Shane was championing this movement in floristry. Fortunately, it is now an increasingly widespread concern in this field.