Lilies for Oscar Wilde

In 2017 artists around Reading were invited to make lilies in tribute to Oscar Wilde and responding to his writing. These were displayed in an installation at Reading Museum. My first lily, ‘Broken rose’ has a dark exterior that is meant to suggest the oppression of Reading Gaol where Wilde was incarcerated. The interior of the petals represents Wilde’s writing and his genius. I chose the children’s story ‘The Nightingale and the Rose’, which ends with the rose being run over by a cartwheel. I didn’t have a cart to hand so I substituted a Fiat 500 to find out what a run over rose would look like. Interestingly the rose ‘bled’ but remained intact. I incorporated a photo of the rose into the image for this lily. The rose could also represent Oscar’s heart, he once wrote to his lover Bosie ‘my heart is a rose which your love has brought to bloom’. Within the lily the gold pen and paper clips represent Oscar Wilde himself. My second lily ‘C.3.3’s ballad’ is based on the ‘Ballad of Reading Gaol’. C.3.3 is Wilde’s prison number and the pseudonym he used when the ballad was first published.