Interview with Anne ten Donkelaar


A damaged butterfly, a broken twig, a bumblebee, some strangely grown weeds: I find all of these unique discoveries in my path and then take them home to my studio. Here, I take my time to explore the objects and try to work out how I can show each one to its best advantage. My finds inspire me. While looking at them I can invent my own stories about their existence and their lives. By protecting these precious pieces under glass, I give the objects a second life and hope to inspire people to make up their own stories about them.


Can you tell me a little bit about your background in art? How long have you been an artist? 

I studied 3D product design at art school in Utrecht, the Netherlands. I graduated in 2007 with a collection of jewelry and curtains. After this, I started working on a collection of pillows with embroideries. To start this I created a mood board, but my mood board became more interesting than the pillow designs. It was the beginning of the “Flower constructions.” 

Where do you gather the materials for your pieces?

I have a little garden were I grow my flowers. The pictures are from second hand books. And butterflies I get them from the botanical garden in Utrecht.

You work in various forms of art-making, from printmaking and collage to wearable items. What entices you to use multiple mediums? Do you identify more with any one medium?

I think is because of my background of product design that I like to research and work with different mediums. I love working with collage for the composition and color research the best.

Can you tell me about 1-2 of your favorite pieces? Is there a story behind them? What do you think makes them successful?

I really like Flower construction 82 because of the color and size of the work. The work is 130 cm by 170 cm by 6.5 cm so you can almost get in to the work. And I like the Rainbow warrior, for me it really gives me the feeling of childhood memories. And I like to fantasize that this butterfly has special powers that leaves a trail of happiness, softness and joy - something the world needs.

How do you know when a work is complete?

It is a feeling, I just know when it's good.

What do you hope your audience takes away from your work?

I hope it gives joy and that it inspires.


Are there any exciting exhibitions or projects you are working on this year that you would like to share?  

I have been working for a while on a photo project with water and flowers. And I hope to present this next month. It will be shown at the London Design Week in September 2107 with the Cold Press Gallery.