Studio Visit

The Painted Papier-Mâché World Of Morgana Celeste

Morgana Celeste is almost a professional moonlighter. In the undergraduate years she spent studying floristry during daylight hours, her evenings were consumed with night classes in textile design at RMIT. Now she renders her wobbly, vivid papier-mâchéd canvases from a ‘funny-shaped’ terrace house in Fitzroy North, conducting her art practice in the spare hours she finds around running her successful floristry business.

There’s no stopping this creative whirlwind, who launched her first solo exhibition at pépite’s online viewing room just yesterday. There’s no rest for the wicked, or the creative!

Sasha Gattermayr

Photo – Emma Sandral.

Photo – Emma Sandral.

Photo – Courtesy of pépite.

Photo – Courtesy of pépite.

Morgana outside her backyard studio. Photo – Emma Sandral.

Sasha Gattermayr
20th of May 2020

If only we were all as motivated as Morgana Celeste. The multi-hyphenate creative is trained in textile design and floristry, serving as co-founder of her successful company Candy MT during the day (the pair were shortlisted in The Design Files Design Awards in 2019 for their floral creations!) and making her eccentric, textured paintings in her spare time.

Morgana’s artistic practice started out of the need to decorate the white, empty walls in her rambling Fitzroy North house, but also from an insatiable creative drive that needed more tending than her business alone could provide. ‘In creative jobs like floristry, you can start to feel the pressure to be good or have the next big idea, which can be exhausting,’ she explains. ‘I find it helpful to have another outlet to blow off steam.’ Despite her flourishing floristry career, her creativity was losing a bit of its magic to hustle culture.

The resulting tonic to these business pressures are her vivid, unique canvases. To make her rough-textured, three-dimensional paintings Morgana uses pulped waste paper which she has torn through a machine shredder. ‘I sieve out the paper while it’s still wet and mix through fine cement for durability.’ She then squashes pigments through the pulp by hand, before applying it to a sheet of backing paper.

Sometimes she sketches out colour and movement before preparing her materials, but the substances she works with can be temperamental, and she finds spontaneity is the best approach. The cement begins to harden as soon as it gets wet, which puts a natural timer on her art-making sessions. ‘It’s best to make a picture in one go,’ she says.

Morgana’s narrative impulse is strongly informed by colour, and the serendipity of the natural world, though her technique is stimulated by the variety of mediums and materials she has worked with in the past. ‘I learned a lot about colour from floristry and observing nature,’ she explains. ‘Plants make such nuanced decisions and flowers often surprise you by pairing a delicate, soft shade with something hideous. But it always makes it more interesting.’

Morgana believes that everyone has the ability to discover these creative interpretations of the world if they look hard enough. ‘Everyone has something special to make as long as they listen to their curiosity.’ Wise words indeed!

Like the look of Morgana’s pieces? Her first (online) exhibition is on sale at pépite here! Her work can also be viewed on her website here, and her  floral work at Candy MT can be found here.

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