To see the botanical collage work of Dutch artist Anne ten Donkelaar is to marvel; to see her collages in person is to be transported to another world. As Anne says, “I see them as planets, floating. As if seeds were thrown into space and then grew…wild.”
Photographs by Joris Louwes except where noted.
Pictures of cacti, blossoms, buds and leaves clipped from old books Anne blends with dried plants, delicate roots and stems. Each image and object is elevated, mounted on a pin. The effect is surreal, but also wonderfully real too. And to stand next to a collage as tall as I was? I almost knelt down in worship.
As a child, Anne made flower ‘soups’, plucking blossoms to create small swirling tapestries of colour. Later, on trips with her family to Austria and France in the summers, she began pressing flowers in books. That passion—for the foraged and the found—still underpins her work today. She uses a large press designed by her husband, Vladi Rapport, to accommodate finds from waysides and her own admittedly ‘wild garden’.
Anne began working in embroidery after finishing her studies in 3-D product design. When asked about her shift from embroidery to collage, she said, “one day I saw the threads on my mood board connecting bits of plants, images and dried flowers, and I knew what direction to take.”
Anne’s studio is not open to the public but her works are available by commission. Recently she has begun working on a series of ‘Underwater Ballet’ pieces, photographic works of underwater orchestrations. She positions plants in a large custom-built tank, while her husband captures the movement and moment—the choreography—of the work.
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