Jacqueline Louter-Hoos recreates art history with artificial flowers
Even if we don’t see each other a lot, photographer Jacqueline Louter-Hoos and I have a lot in common. First, we both didn’t embark on our creative careers until later in life. Also, we both love making bold statements in our work, preferably with color. Lots of color. I met up with Jacqueline in her studio in the town of Delft, where she not only does her excellent portrait photography, but also spends time working on her more artistic work. Case in point: Preserved – a series of beautiful recreations of floral arrangements from the past with nothing but artificial flowers Jacqueline had found at local second-hand stores.
I always find that the best ideas are often also the most straightforward ones. How did your brilliant idea come about?
Early 2018, I saw that Galerie Sehnsucht in Rotterdam had a call for entries. They were looking for artists who could do something around the theme of a ‘time machine’. In that same period, I had some old stuff that I wanted to donate to our local second-hand store. When I was there, my eye caught these awful looking bouquet of artificial flowers in a vase. And I suddenly realized that was a time machine in and of itself. When you think of it, artificial flowers are nothing more than a feeble attempt of man to capture in plastic and fabric the most beautiful thing nature has to offer. I wanted to expand on that idea and recreate a Rococo bouquet using artificial flowers from local second-hand stores and then put them together in a single vase. I find it fascinating that I can combine all the separate flowers that were once lovingly bought and used by so many different people.
Was it hard to find just the right flowers and vases?
The funny thing is that it all looks so much nicer in a photo. My daughter, who has just graduated from the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague, loved the first photo I had made and asked me if I was going to do more of them. And then Galerie Sehnsucht asked me the same question. They even offered me an exhibition! That’s when I realized I was onto something. Of course, I said yes and then the ball really started rolling. I started doing a lot of research, analyzing every detail of painted bouquets of flowers from different periods in art history. During the Baroque period, for instance, painters used insects and butterflies. And let me tell you, it was quite a challenge to find them! I also wanted to do something around Biedermeier, Empire and Renaissance.
Did you know that before the Renaissance, flowers were mostly used in paintings as a tribute to Mary? But never as a bouquet – fascinating stuff, right? And in Empire, everything revolves around a triangular shape. In the end, I made this really long wish list that I would take with me every time I went to a second-hand store. Sometimes, I’d find something unexpected that would inspire me to do something new. For instance, I found this vase shaped like a flamingo’s leg that led to an Eighties Miami style arrangement. Oh and yes, I even found my butterflies.
Didn’t you feel tempted to start looking online?
You’d be amazed at how much you can find here in my hometown of Delft alone! And it’s a lot of fun talking to the people who work at the thrift stores I go to. I once found a vase that cost € 10 according to the price tag. But when I wanted to pay, the cashier said: let’s make it € 5 – otherwise it would be way too expensive. There are so many nice stories behind the items I’ve collected these past few months. For fabric, I often went to the market in nearby Rotterdam. As long as the color was just right, I’d even buy this really cheap synthetic fabric. You’d be amazed how much you can find for so little money.
And then you do the photography here in your studio, right?
Yes! Some people don’t quite believe it when they see the result. They think everything is painted or put together as a collage with photoshop. But when you look carefully, you can definitely see that it’s all plastic & artificial stuff. It can take me up to five hours to set everything up and create the perfect light. I only need a single take when everything is just right. Of course, I subtly spruce things up here and there afterwards. Other than that, I don’t use Photoshop. When I’m done, everything goes again. My floral arrangements are there only for a few moments and then they’re gone again – which is interesting in and of itself. Our time is limited – it’s the only luxury that we can’t buy. It’s a theme that other artists are working with as well at the moment. I guess I’ve given it my own twist.
Are your photos for sale?
Definitely! Each photo comes in an edition of 7. That’s what you do with photography, you release a limited edition. Prices are more affordable than you’d think. A small photo goes for € 450 and the larger ones cost € 695. You can order them online from my own bloemenwinkel – my flower shop. And of course, I can also help out if you’re looking for an experienced portrait photographer!
Delft White | project PRESERVED