They were queuing around the block from the moment the doors opened on Thursday, 22nd September. Flower arrangers from four continents converged on Torquay's Riviera International Conference Centre to compete for top honours in one of the UK's most important events in the flower arranging calendar: the National Association of Flower Arrangement Societies' annual show 2011.
And the wait was definitely worth it. More than 500 exhibits were on display, large and small, with challenging themes such as Dichotomy, Random Harvest and Overabundance. This wasn't flower arranging as we know it, much more art with flowers. And the creativity on display would have done justice to any national art gallery.
Torbay was well represented with competitors such as Barbara Lee, a Chelsea gold medal winner, displaying her skills in the Modus Operandi class with a stunning piece depicting the process of smelting copper from rivers. Another Torquay entrant, Pauline Passmore was commended in the Beauty of the Night section.
Overall winner for best individual exhibit was Patricia Maple from the Wessex and Jersey Club for her stunning creation in the Impetus class. She also won the WAFA Award which automatically enters her in the next world championships.
So what do the judges look for? Barbara Harris, one of the adjudicators, said it was a combination of technique, balance, execution and interpretation of the theme. She commented on the extremely high quality in all the classes. "Every one is a winner really," she said, "when the standard is so high."
Torquay was hosting the show for the first time with competitors travelling to the bay from Pakistan, India, Ireland, Malta and Kenya. Some of their creations were months in the planning. NAFAS represents more than 1,300 flower clubs and 70,000 members world wide. Devon and Cornwall were represented by 30 clubs with Heather Werkmeister from Truro achieving the highest marks for the south west, placed second in the Overabundance class. The show finished on Saturday September 24.
Written by Jane Blanchard, Blanchard Media
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