Before I entered the world of flowers I knew the name Constancy Spry, I didn’t know what she did or who she was, but that name gave me images of the matrons in Malory Towers, Nurse Ratched temperaments, and Miss Trunchbull figures. Women in sensible shoes and neutral coloured tights as think as any pair of trousers, a woman who would never bend, and to whom the idea of invitation was almost abhorrent. I never imagined how completely wrong I was, that Constancy Spry was in fact one of the most innovative women of her time, a women, yes wore pillar box hats and pearls, but who also changed the face of flower arranging forever. In an age of rules and regulations Spry dared to use weeds, grasses, berries, twigs, and vegetables within her arrangements, something that had never been heard of before. She loved the use of space, unusual containers, and took much inspiration from the artists of the seventeenth and eighteenth century’s.
Now a play named ‘Storm in a Flower Vase’ by Anton Burge has been written about her life, (a very fitting title I feel) based on Sue Shepherd’s book ‘The Surprising Life of Constance Spry, it begins when Spry sets up her second and far larger shop in Mayfair in 1934, by which time she already employed 70 people.
‘The play does not follow Shephard’s book in its entirety. Instead “it is a play about her relationships at the time of her setting up her business”, Kimpton (the Director) says. Spry’s relationships make for racy reading. Although always known as Mrs Spry, she was never married to the man she lived with, Henry Ernest Spry, known as Shav. Had this emerged, it would have cost both their jobs and reputations. She also struck up a romance with Gluck. “It is surprising what you read about Spry,” Kimpton says, although “we’re not branding this play as a lesbian jaunt”.’
In my opinion Spry should be an inspiration to all women, not just thous involved in the flower industry. She was modern, pioneering, strict, enterprising, and creative; a pure force of nature. I have been proved wrong of my expectations of her and can’t wait to go see the play about her life and achievements. What ever you think of the women, we wouldn’t be the same without her. Constancy I salute you.
I’m also getting very excited about my first day working for the very talented Kitten&Co on Friday. I’ll keep you posted on all the details over the weekend.