“Although it started as a joke, the tulip has become a constant theme in my work since 1998. As a passionate flower lover from an early age, I was touched by the marvellous but hidden history of how the tulip made its way along the Silk Road from its cradle in Central Asia to Constantinople, and from there by boat to Antwerp. It was from here, in 1562, that the tulip made its grand entry into Europe, 30 years before tulips flowered for the first time in Amsterdam.

I realised that, despite my Dutch roots, I had never had an open mind towards this iconic flower. However, the remarkable shape and the unexpected rich history and background of this simple flower, and its role in art and gardens of totally different cultures throughout the centuries, became an endless source of inspiration for me.”

Dutch-born artist and landscape designer Ronald van der Hilst (1965), moved to Antwerp, Belgium in 1993 and made Antwerp aware of this hidden treasure and its history through an exhibition project in 2006. The project involved all the official local museums and many of the window displays of Antwerp fashion designers.