Giant Paper Flowers Bloom Inside Abbey Church in France

As if the ornate Gothic architecture in the Abbey church of Saint-Riquier in France wasn’t beautiful enough already, it was temporarily filled with over 100 intricate and graceful paper flowers. Netherlands-based artist Peter Gentenaar created the sculptures with bamboo ribbing that echoes the curving lines of the church’s vaulted ceilings.

Gentenaar draws on his experience as both a graphic artist and a sculptor to create these three-dimensional forms, settling on paper as a medium because “a sheet of paper is thin and strong like the leaf of a plant.” When the paper is reinforced with thin strips of bamboo, treated with wax and then allowed to dry, the tension bends and twists each sculpture into its own form.

When the paper offered by mills wasn’t quite up to his standards, Gentenaar decided to make his own. He created a customized machine that helps him design each intricate sculpture. He compares the result to dried autumn leaves twirling in the wind.

The sculptures were installed in the church in summer 2011 to celebrate the 25th annual festival of classical music in St. Riquier. The abbey was built in 638.