Art / It’s art for heart’s sake

Canberra model Stefania Ferrario embedded in roses and native Australian foliage. Photo by Lori Cicchini; floral design and make-up by David Reid.

“FLOWERS are my paint,” says florist and make-up artist David Reid of a joint springtime venture with art photographer Lori Cicchini.

“Dressing people up with clothes is another kind of paint, and make-up too,” he adds as we consider a reflective image by Cicchini of Canberra model Stefania Ferrario embedded in roses and native Australian foliage.

The image is one of many created in an “art for art’s sake” venture emerging from Canberra’s creative community. Cicchini and Reid have created an art form where flowers, fashion and make-up merge with fine photography. Using Canberra models, including Ferrario, a notable advocate for diversity in the fashion industry.

Their joint credentials are formidable.

Reid is a florist and make-up artist by day, but at heart he’s an artist. Born in Kuala Lumpur of mixed Chinese-Indian heritage, he was raised in Canberra and went to Lake Ginninderra College then on to study fashion at Canberra Institute of Technology, where he found himself increasingly fascinated by make-up.

Lori Cicchini’s “Sadia” features Sadia Nabil, of Haus Models; make-up by David Reid; hair, Julie Okely and flora from Arum Floral Design.

“I’m a person who loves to create things and make things pretty,” he says.

It was make-up that took him to glamorous places as he created covers for “Harper’s Bazaar” and “Marie Claire”. In Sydney he once did make-up for Cate Blanchett without recognising her.

One of his most exciting make-up gigs saw him take a call from fellow CIT fashion student, Leigh Gow, now executive director for Huayi Brothers Fashion Group, who whisked him by plane to Shanghai to become make-up stylist to the queen of punk fashion, Vivienne Westwood, when she opened Fashion Week there in 2011.

Cicchini, whose photography has been variously described as “emotive”, “narrative”, “dark and provoking”, studied at Merici College before taking out a Bachelor in Photography at CIT and launching into her brilliant career.

“Off the wall and quirky – that’s how people see my work,” she tells “CityNews.”

She won first place for her fine-art nudes in the 2015 International Photography Awards, when she was also named Australia’s Top Emerging Fashion/Editorial Photographer in “Capture Magazine”. She was named this year’s Australian Institute of Professional Photography ACT Illustrative Photographer of the Year.

“Walk in the Wind”, photography and styling by Lori Cicchini; model Gemma Scott; make-up, David Reid; hair, Julie Okely and accessories by Faith Valent.

She’s exhibited in a National Portrait Gallery retrospective, at CSIRO Discovery Centre and at PhotoAccess, of which she is a dedicated member and where she will hold workshops later in the year to show how she develops her concepts.

In a big solo “Tela Umana – Human Canvas” at Sydney’s M2 Gallery during the 2018 “HeadOn” photo festival, she exhibited “almost demonic” work inspired by Caravaggio alongside her “Wallflowers” series.

The collaboration between Reid and Cicchini began several years ago.

“Dave approached me with a concept and asked if I was interested in collaborating – I said yes,” Cicchini says.

“The face of the model is a canvas or a piece of paper,” Reid says. In much of the collaborative work with Cicchini the faces of the models are in fact painted. This is where his work becomes art.

Cicchini has her own ideas: “I lean towards showing the inner person. I’m not interested in weddings, babies, family portraits, I’m interested in making art… Dave does make-up and floral art – we build something together.

“Dave will come up with an idea and find out who the model might be. He wants to draw on his make-up and styling palate and I want to interpret it in my way… one time I had a vision of red fabric on the model’s head and it turned into a beautiful art piece.”

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