Flowers, pomegranates, insects and lace seem more likely to be found in a 17th-century painting than in a contemporary photograph. Yet for artist Saskia Wagenvoort, who draws inspiration from the Dutch masters, symbols like these are central to her “mixed and stitched” photography. In combining organic and man-made objects into double-layered photographs, Wagenvoort aims to establish harmony between the elements and explore the idea of “keeping yourself together in a beautiful way.”
To create each double-layered photograph, Wagenvoort begins by styling a model or arranging a still life. She then photographs it, prints it, and, directly on top, attaches new elements such as jewellery, flowers or pins. Wagenvoort often hand sews into the printed photograph as well, hence the “stitched” in the series’ name. Last, she photographs the “mixed and stitched” piece, ending with the final two-layered photograph.
Rather than deciding ahead of time which elements to add to the original photo, Wagenvoort waits to see how the piece evolves.
The fly, butterfly and fresh or dried flowers reminds the viewer of the fleeting nature of beauty and the inevitability of death, a theme explored throughout the series.
Wagenvoort did not consider herself a photographer before creating this series. With a background as a makeup artist, casting agent, drawing teacher, and textile artist, she originally felt she needed to hire a photographer to help create the multilayered photographs. When it became clear that only she could reproduce the images in her head, she took over the photography as well. For the past five years, Wagenvoort has worked on her “mixed and stitched” series, inspired by the goal of "giving the viewer a sense of peace.”