A hunger for vegetable art

Tuesday 28 October 2008, 11:36AM
By Auckland Flower Show


Popular vegetable artists The Vege People are busy preparing for their 14th flower show, and this year draw their inspiration from the Egyptian Nile.

The Vege People, led by Julena Moors, will bring 'Cleopatra' to life for the Auckland Flower Show at Alexandra Park. The Egyptian queen, dressed in a gown fashioned from New Zealand-grown, Chinese cabbage, will relax under the fan of her azuki-bean boy servant. Cleopatra need not turn in her tomb at the concept, for she is in good artistic hands.

The Vege People have won numerous awards at flower shows over the years, including five gold medals, a Supreme Award and twice, the prestigious People's Choice Award. It's the latter award that chief creator Julena Moors covets most. "The highlight of every show for me, is watching people's faces light up with a big smile as they say, 'Wow, that's clever!'."

Fun is always evident in the end result of The Vege People's creations, but it hides a mountain of work that goes into creating these complex exhibits. Pre-construction of pillars and backdrop is now underway in the Moors shed. Vegetables will be bought at the last minute, to ensure they are good quality throughout the show.

"I've never wanted it to be said that the veges were wilted."

Usually show visitors are keen to buy the exhibits after the show, and Julena says it often has the effect of inspiring people to eat more vegetables, as evidenced by increases in supermarket sales for veges featured in the exhibits. "That's our main aim in creating these displays. Vegetables are good for you, and we want to get that message across in a fun and creative way."

Many exhibitors at the Auckland Flower Show obtain sponsorship to help fund their displays. Ever the innovator, this year Julena has come up with another way to pay for her raw materials. She has put together a calendar of images from past flower shows that reveal the impeccable detail and quality of produce. Popular images include the spectacular '5+ A Day the Colour Way', which contained two tonnes of produce and more than 53 varieties of fruit and vegetables. 'Kiri of the Gardens' is also a favoured image in the calendar. "She represents how this all began for us, 14 years ago," explains Julena.

The Auckland Flower Show takes place at Alexandra Park, 20-23 November 2008. On the web: