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WOMEN WHO CREATE: CAROLINA SPENCER OF MATAGALAN PLANTAE, A CONNOISSEUR OF COLOUR

Softly wrapped by sunlight and nestled in carefully curated still lives, the flower arrangements and self-made ceramic flowerpots of artist and designer Carolina Spencer almost feel more painted than real, their surfaces gleaming in colours warm and rich, complementing each other with distinct synchronisation. Spencer, who creates these arrangements in Barcelona then uploads them onto Instagram for an ever growing following to see, is something like a connoisseur of colours – making not only all plants astoundingly harmonise, but also her flowerpots and the overall surrounding of her creations. In a world perpetually driven by technology, taking the time to curate and engage oneself with something as delicate as flowers feels like an outlet very much needed – especially if the final images are as aesthetically engaging as Spencer’s set ups.

What is the base of your creation process?
Every time I create, it starts from energy in my body or an idea in my head, which I translate into shapes. I would say my work begins by thinking very mathematically about the design of the ceramic pieces. I am quite rigorous with the measurements, proportions, and colours. Then, using those pieces and vases as a base, I start a creative exploration with plants, flowers, and extra elements that I find around me at that time. I always try to achieve a coherence and balance between the pieces that make up the composition, trying to integrate those worlds while creating a whole new universe. So, I could probably affirm that one of my goals today is trying to find a connection between design, art, and living materials.

Matagalan Plantae Carolina Spencer Interview

How did this energy manifest itself in plants?
I’m actually a designer, I explored different design areas but I also worked with computers a lot. Just when boredom was creeping in I got the chance to meet Donna Stain and worked for her team for seven years. It was there that I learned the trade. I felt amazed by her style of creating with natural elements, I also learned to think about how to place an arrangement in a specific space – we worked for a world renowned hotel company – not only thinking about the flowers, but considering them as a part of that space too, not as a simple bouquet. I always loved nature but because of watching her work I started to consider becoming a florist designer. I am Chilean, and unfortunately we don’t have a floral culture such as Europe has, even less when I lived there 15 years ago. So I really never knew I could develop my creativity through these elements.

Apart from meeting Donna Stain, what are the driving forces behind your craft?
I am inspired by anything, even the strangest or dumbest thing at some point appears in my head. I use it to create something else or put it in another context. I try not to focus too much on trends on the internet because it is easy to fall into imitations and I am trying to create my own universe.

Matagalan Plantae Carolina Spencer Interview

What is the most challenging part of your creation process?
The challenge is trying to do something new. To create shapes or aesthetics that make me feel amazed. To design a product that is simple, functional and unique is very challenging, but then, something unlocks in my head and everything starts to flow. Composing with vases and flowers or whatever for me is very fun and easy, the challenge appears again later when I get to that point that I have to say to myself: Ok, it’s finished. Sometimes that takes time!

On the other hand: What is the most exciting part of your creation process?
I love it all, it is a whole process that starts with a very conscious concept of shapes and functionality, and develops into a very fun and freestyle session with living materials. It is exciting to buy flowers and plants and discover new species. It is also exciting when I receive a new piece and see what it looks like, how an idea becomes touchable.

Matagalan Plantae Carolina Spencer Interview

Do you view your creation and carving out a place in society for it as something feminist?
I like to see myself as a creative human being more than dividing myself between sexes. I do believe we, as females, have a supernatural, beautiful, and amazing power – we give life and house a life for nine months, also I am a mother of a 11 year old boy – but I’m not particularly focused on showing my female views as an aesthetical statement. I don’t want to sound rude but I feel that lately – in social media the most – being feminist is a bit distorted.

Where do you feel the most at ease, what would be your ideal work environment?
I am a very home-loving person and I don’t go out too much, so my house and studio are my perfect environment, it is like a temple where almost everything creative happens, it is where I feel safe and free. It is where I feel myself.

Matagalan Plantae Carolina Spencer Interview

How does this environment influence your work?
I live in a warehouse, so any time during the day when I feel inspired I have the possibility to do whatever I want and I really like that. I think my life changed when I moved here about a year and a half ago. Other places where I feel very comfortable working is at Casa Bonay, it is a beautiful hotel I decorate with fresh flowers once a week. Every Thursday I go there, and I don’t really know what I’m going to do so it is like a challenge trying to find an aesthetic balance every week. I wish I could work when no one is there, because I don’t really enjoy working while people are watching, but that’s also a challenge.

What is one thing people might be most surprised to learn in relation to your work?
All pieces are created in a certain fashion to harness positive energy and in their own way they become talismans.

How do you feel when creating?
Me.

With the series Women Who Create, Material Magazine is looking to highlight women from a variety of professions and passions that use their unique talents to carve out a space for themselves and their art in our cultural landscape.