Soldiers, courtiers, gardeners, lend me your shears…

As a side hustle I freelance at a London event florist. I was initially taken on as a driver and studio assistant, but the company have figured out I’m fairly adept in the props-fabrication department. I’ve subsequently found myself doing an increasing amount of crafting, a welcome stimulant for my creativity. Here are some cards I’ve created, part of a shop-front installation for Chelsea in Bloom – the alternative floral art show that transforms the streets of Chelsea during the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

(Jeffrey Mundell at the Alice in Wonderland display by Lucy Vail Floristry outside Cole & Sons in Chelsea, London. Chelsea in Bloom, 2023. Photo: Joanne Gale)

The cards are part of an Alice in Wonderland-themed installation. In Lewis Carroll’s story, the cards labour under the oppressive Queen of Hearts. I’ve read that clubs represent soldiers, the diamonds courtiers, spades are gardeners and the hearts represent children or royals.

I used plywood for the heart and diamond cards, and hardboard (more flexible) for the spades and clubs, which are curved. The suit designs are adapted from older playing cards to lend a vintage feel to the design and the acrylic paint finish is weather-sealed with clear lacquer. Each card is attached to a light wooden frame that maintains their shape and provides a structure to attach them to the display.

(Chelsea in Bloom is currently on display in London. The RHS Chelsea Flower Show runs from 23-27 May 2023 at the Royal Hospital Chelsea)

Forget passion, follow your curiosity.

Enjoyed this article from Fast Company about choosing paths in life – Why most people pick the wrong career, according to a former rocket scientist. To sum up:

As long as you enjoy the journey—and as long as you create art you’re proud of—who cares if you don’t reach your destination? You’ve already won.

“You can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.”

– Jim Carrey

Auditions pile up ’23

Image: Jeffrey Mundell in DGT Retiro

My first audition of 2023 raced in as the year sped off and I thought: Here we go – let’s get this show on the road! Then three jobbing months limped by.

It’s been a stuttering start, crawling off the back-fire of the last three years. I won’t lie – my engine has taken a knock and I struggled to get up to speed ahead of the second of this year’s starting grids. Yep, that’s a grand total of two auditions in the last four months! From what I’m hearing, many of us are seeing ignition failure in the casting department this year. It’s depressingly quiet. The turbos are far from boosting.

Auto analogies aside, both of my auditions have surprisingly been of the face-to-face variety – unusual with the current trend towards self-tapes where you film and edit your own audition remotely. Both systems have pros and cons. I find being in the room, able to ask questions and take direction useful – especially when the actual director is present.

This latest audition was a commercial casting where actors are grouped in a variety of combinations, then held a while longer to play the scene again in a different group and so on – unlike the common two-minute, hit-and-run type.

I’m pretty certain I was kept for over an hour by mistake – honestly didn’t feel I was firing on all cylinders. Regardless, staying longer does give one the feeling of being in the running, a little boost to the confidence: you’re still a contender. It also doesn’t take long for a room of actors to spark up conversation. Simply sitting amongst the actory chit-chat, a sense of connectedness and belonging starts to seep into those parts that are feeling the grind – some good, clean oil to smooth the ride…

Onwards and upwards.