Tage Andersen has a fantasy-infused floral gallery-like shop filled with one-of-a-kind gifts and arrangements; browsers are charged a DKr 45 admission. The first time I saw this sign I flinched, what kind of florist would charge admission? Each time I walked by my curiosity grew until I finally marched in and I paid my equivalent to 7 dollars. The bonsai trees, iron sculptures and flower arrangements really have to be seen to be believed.
The term ‘florist’ just isn’t quite grand enough for a man who is one of Denmark's national treasures. Opulent and baroque, Tage Andersen’s premises in Ny Adelgade in the centre of Copenhagen’s Latin Quarter is part-florist, part-garden gallery, selling sculptures, ironwork, bonsai and flower arrangements in its labyrinthine emporium. It’s a delight just to wander among the caged tropical birds and ornate flower sculptures, and out to the courtyard gazebo to the rear.
My sighting of Tage Anderson as he scurried elf-like behind open doorways with armfuls of freshly cut flowers confirmed him every bit a real character in his plus fours and handlebar moustache.
Andersen uses materials, proportions and colours that contradict but happily coexist with each other – patinated copper, rusting iron, silver-plated leaves, mirror pieces, rotting fruit, zinc cups, pewter, lead planters, wild fungii, exotic birds in wire cages, sacking drapes, glass, dried stalks, textiles, twigs, mosses, candles the colour of petrol and mud – flowers alone are not sufficient for him. They are only one of the ingredients which, together with furniture, containers and lighting, complete the whole tableaux.
His shop opens out into a courtyard, complete with a fountain and a glowering peahen. Of this, the eccentric Mr Andersen says, “The many open windows overlooking the courtyard provide a somewhat ambiguous atmosphere that is difficult to control. The freely flying exotic birds find it difficult to know what they should and shouldn’t. And the four dogs should preferably be quiet.”
He has created a whole world of his own with a deeply gothic palette. His floral pieces and objet d’furniture have all been constructed, welded, chromeplated and fabricated by the man himself in a limited range of muted colours against which he offsets richly hued flowers. Much of his work is specially commissioned by the Danish Royal Family.
Tage is a realist living his dream, which is interwoven with the threads of his passion for the components of nature. In 1988, Andersen furnished the Restaurant Kommandanten in Copenhagen, which in 1698 was the official residence of Copenhagen’s Commander of the armed forces. The stylish grey interior was conceived and decorated by Andersen with hand-made iron furniture and baroque floral arrangements. Apart from his ever-changing flowers, the wall decorations are re-dressed to maintain the mood of the seasons.
His works have had suitably appropriate settings in exhibitions within the famous castles and palaces of Denmark and Finland, and one of his annual exhibitions is in Vanersborg in Sweden. Andersen’s set and costume designs have led to him being awarded the Danish Arts Foundation Prize.
The artist himself writes: “For me, atmosphere is one of the most important things to achieve. Interiors, floral art and exteriors fill a great part of my life and are difficult to separate. I myself cannot separate them, but I deliberately set out to create a totality of these concepts. “Creation is my life’s greatest joy. Given the idea and the inspiration, the creation itself marks the culmination no matter which materials it involves. To me the type of material is of little importance. But I set great store by an element of ‘genuineness’, “To create things with my own hands and permit myself to improvise is naturally a great delight. I find another delight in seeing my own drawings or sketches executed by the clever people responsible for my productions – ... that they become precisely what I had envisaged. He also has said “One prays that the joy of creation may never cease and the possibilities remain unlimited. Every day there is fortunately something new – an inherited ability to see what is great in the small and help it on its way.”