Visual artist Shirin Gunny best describes herself as a citizen of the world. Born in Mauritius with Indian and Canadian origins, she was very much influenced by the cultural diversity of both her homeland and her second home in Montreal. Creating art has been a way to visually express both her uniqueness and how she relates to her diametrically opposite cultures.
After several years in the largest North American communication agency, this business school graduate decided to leave her job to live her passion and indulge in the art of the beautiful.
In 2004, Shirin leaves Montreal and moves to Beijing. She sets up a small workshop to create unique costume jewellery with vibrant colours and an ethnic look. A few months after her installation, her brand “Shirin Spirited Design” is launched and her first collections made from one of a kind beads and old hand woven fabrics turn out to be a real success.
After a few wanderings between China and Montreal, Shirin decides to return to her native island. Driven by her passion to create and interest in experimentation, she starts looking for unique materials. One day, while foraging and plucking flowers in her tropical garden, she is stunned by the richness of the shapes and colours available at hand. She decides to arrange the organic materials and discovers that the possibilities are endless when it comes to creating ephemeral art using seasonal flowers.
The process is a true revelation for someone who loves finding new ways of enhancing and assembling things in a creative way. More than the final result itself, Shirin enjoys the challenge of the creative process : “When I start, I never know what the result will be. It all comes together in a very natural way. Whether it’s the amount of flowers I’ve managed to pluck on that day, the colours and shapes I was able to find. Part of the process feels a bit like magic because I always end up having the exact amount of seeds, petals and leaves that are required to finalise a piece”.
Her work is all about giving a visual and contemporary edge to a material that usually qualifies as being rather conventional and kept for the art of flower arrangement. The options are endless for the artist who takes pride in the process of creation itself and her inventiveness is endless when it comes to transcending reality.
Beyond the ornamental constructions, Shirin’s creations leave nobody indifferent and provoke unanimous emotions. No wonder when we know that for Shirin beauty is a value in itself and that it’s worth nurturing.
The three artworks that are being presented to Arte Laguna are part of a special collaboration Shirin did with UNESCO'S Biosphere of Bel Ombre Mauritius. The three artworks focus on the cycle of life of the precious and fragile ecosystem of the endemic reserve. From the birth of the leaf to its decomposition on the ground, Shirin's "treasure hunt" for unique ephemeral material has proven to be priceless. Her one-of-a-kind artistic perspective is an invitation to a conversation and open dialogue on what the island has been able to protect so far and how its people should value the importance of this unique flora and fauna heritage (Out of 691 plant species present in Mauritius, 273 are endemic to the island and 150 are endemic to the Mascarenes).