Place of my own: Carine Ferry
Carine Ferry hasn’t decorated her apartment in the typical sense of the word. Using paints, plaster, faux fur, black lights and vellum papers in every colour of the rainbow, she has single-handedly created an imaginary world within the walls of her apartment. Over almost three years—drawing on inspirations such as Mozart’s Magic Flute and the paintings of Picasso and Matisse—Carine has transformed the dull, magnolia-white walls of her Gràcia apartment into fantastical scenes and imaginative recreations of her favourite wo
rks of art. “I want to go beyond painting, beyond being an artist. I want to live in my paintings,” said Carine with a giddy voice.
This isn’t the first time Carine has used an apartment as her canvas. Originally from Paris, Carine has lived in Barcelona for nearly 10 years and has turned every one of her apartments into a similar masterpiece. Beyond finding a new apartment with an inspiring vibe and decent potential, she admits she doesn’t start with a specific plan. For example, idly standing in her kitchen one day, she decided the three cabinets above the counter would symbolise the three gates—nature, wisdom and knowledge—that Tamino faced upon arriving at Sarastro’s temple in his attempt to rescue Pamina. And so, with some additional plaster flames around the doorway, water splashes in various shades of blue vellum paper on the wall and the three main characters’ faces perched just below the ceiling, the kitchen became a setting for Mozart’s Magic Flute. “I don’t consciously make decisions. Creativity just flows out of me,” said Carine. “Once I’ve done one painting or made one portrait, I see something else that will complete the scene and add that to the space until every inch of my apartment is a piece of art.” Sometimes a statue or mural starts out as one thing, but ends up another. Walking in the front door, visitors are greeted by a towering sprite—representing Puck from A Midsummer Night’s Dream—that was formerly a pharaoh when Carine was going through her Egyptian phase.
It would take days, weeks even, to note all the details of the apartment. The lion positioned above the living room entrance—its mane made of fake, hot pink fur stretching down the sides of the doorframe and tickling bare arms as they pass through—is hard to miss. But her intuitive twist on ‘The Son of Man’, the famous surrealist painting by Magritte, would more than likely go undetected until she pointed out his long, flowing blonde beard fashioned from construction paper. The faceless figure in the original painting has no facial hair, but Carine figures, “that was in 1964. His beard must have grown quite a bit since then”. Or a first-time viewer might fail to observe that rather than leave her replica of Picasso’s pianist from ‘The Piano’ (Velazquez) without a face, she chose to give her pianist the face of Mozart. A natural yet unprecedented combination of two of her most illustrious inspirations. Carine happily confessed that every time she looks at a painting by Picasso or Matisse she sees it through different eyes. That’s what she strives for when adorning her apartment. She wants people to say, “Oh wow! I didn’t notice that the last time I was here”.
Friends and family who come to stay with Carine have quite the experience. They get to sleep with Matisse—dressed in blue and white pinstriped pyjamas—and his wife; shower with the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland; and brush their teeth with a floor-to-ceiling
female character, who could easily star in a Tim Burton film, meeting you with her red laser eyes in the mirror. Then at night, when it is nearly pitch-black inside, she turns on the black lights scattered throughout the apartment. She has traced a number of paintings with reactive, fluorescent, acrylic paint so the outlines of her characters and scenery become illuminated, causing the visuals of the apartment to take on a whole new shape and style.
Carine doesn’t like to keep her creations all to herself. She has begun opening up her apartment for small theatre productions—the audience sitting on the pink and white fur-covered couch and chairs in the living room, facing the terrace, which becomes the stage—and interactive, improv dinners through EatWith. The flat is a connection with the theatre that she has longed for since childhood. She said, “As a kid, I wanted to do sets for theatres and operas. What a wonderful job, to be able to create a space not of this world that goes beyond natural beauty”. Right now, she has essentially made that her job, transforming an apartment into a beautifully invented land that she can tweak and expand as inspiration hits her. Barcelona—the city itself—is a big inspiration for her, and she loves that no matter what she wants to create, she can find the materials here, and at a low cost.
With the finishing touches of her apartment complete, where does Carine plan to channel her creativity in the future? Her next project is to build a surrealist cruise ship in which artists design and create everything. The boat, the food, the rooms, the furniture, etc. will all be a work of art. Creative minds will do residencies on the ship and everyone, from aspiring sculptors to bloggers, families wanting to take a year hiatus from the suffocating corporate world to retired couples looking for something to keep them young, are welcome. Carine, who certainly has the passion to make her ambitious plans come to fruition, said, “I want to travel, but I also want to paint all day so I can’t be bothered with making travel plans, getting on airplanes, lugging my suitcases to hotels and all that. I want to paint, and then when my ideas have been drained, I want to look up from my canvas and be in a new, exotic location. So really there is no place on land I want to live right now.”