30 January 2012
The Punkette of Flower Decorating
The Surprising Life of Constance Spry has an apt title and is a heavenly read. For some reason Constance Spry's name today implies 'high-society mimsiness' as Terence Conran so neatly and bitterly put it. Actually, her decorations (never arrangements) were totally unconventional, flying in the face of the 'sugar-tong manners' which she herself despised. Mixing weeds and strange vegetables with very exotic and rarefied flowers, her decorations spilled horizontally off a meat plate or were massively vertical, dominating a grand-scale room. Her theatrical male friends were an influence and she went for drama in a big way.
One of Spry's most notorious as well as favourite choices of plant material was the decorative curly kale (photographed above in 1937). I saw some on a friend's beautiful allotment in Brixworth this morning and felt compelled to take it home and have a Julie and Julia moment. It took all of several seconds but still looks 'interesting' and certainly has potential. It's a nice idea, that the DIY ethos behind punk was applied to something as 'mimsy' as flower decorating 75 years ago.