Marieke Matthijs studied Textile design (KABK, The Hague) and Creative Communications (Rotterdam). She explores how people’s relationship with textures and surfaces can be expanded with photography as a medium.

I have a fascination for the sensorial feeling of touch. In my work I explore how to create art that you would want to touch. This stems from a lifelong urge to know what surfaces feel like underneath my fingers. All surfaces intrigue me. With my art, I want to provoke a similar urge in others. I sculpt with textures and experiment with unconventional materials and techniques. It is almost a quest to see whether people’s relationship with textures and surfaces can be expanded. 

My process of creating an artwork always starts with experimentation and exploration because I want to transform things I already (think to) understand.

About Photosculptures
With my Photosculptures I explore how peoples’ relationship with textures and surfaces can be expanded with photography as a medium. Photography is a well-established form of art, but unlike other forms of art, it lacks a textured depth. In these times of digital photography where photo’s often don’t leave screens, there is no real physical connection between people and photographs. There are a lot of obvious advantages of digital photography; people always have their photos at hand and sharing images has never been easier. But it has also made photography fleeting and people less sensitive to photo prints. I started experimenting with different tools and techniques in order to renew a physical relationship between people and photographs. She started creating textured “Photosculptures” in the hope digitization is not the end-station of photography.

Before the digital era, a photograph was often a cherished memento, a tangible richness. We took good care of the photos, made sure they did not get wet, fold or tear. That kind of mindfulness is not a necessity in this digital age. Years ago I felt a desire to give the treasured status back to photo’s. I started with damaging photo prints as a starting point. For instance, I wanted to see if water damage could add character to an image. This was without satisfying results. Other experiments, like freezing an image submerged in water, were also dead-end approaches. I discovered that treating photo prints with hot oil added texture to images. I spent years researching and experimenting with hot oil. There are a lot of factors that will change the outcome, like photo materials and various manners of applying the hot oil (i.e. temperature, tools, timing). This technique adds physical depth to an otherwise flat photograph and elevates a reproducible photo into an artwork.

About When reality adjusts itself
The Covid-19 lockdown was a struggle for many. People were limited to their homes and often had to cook with the ingredients that were available in the kitchen cabinets. Fear of the virus created a challenge in the kitchen and in life at home. But every challenge also has a positive side. I found myself battling with feelings of depression during the lockdown. My bed was a favored spot and food turned out to be a comfort in more ways than one. Although it did not always meet my “huidhonger” (a Dutch word that emerged during the lockdown, describing a new phenomenon:  the hunger of human contact), the warmth of my bed occasionally helped me cope with the lack of physical contact outside my household. Preparing and consuming food helped me to fill my agenda in a time when outside activities were minimized.  Being deprived of access to my studio, I decided to turn my kitchen at home into a workspace. I started experimenting with creating textures resembling textile with only edible ingredients and tools available in the kitchen. I photographed the textures to depict the sheets on my bed during the lockdown period from March until June 2020.  After the summer of 2020, in which we enjoyed a relaxation of the pandemic measures, I felt anxiety for a similar lockdown surfacing. Will reality adjust itself again?

About Fragile (30 days of lockdown)
The Covid lockdown in the spring of 2020 was a struggle for me, as it was for most people. In those months I filled my evenings with experimentation. In the series Fragile I used some of the same materials and methods as I did with the creation of the series When reality adjusts itself. This was partly due to the limitations of the lockdown. I created many tiny sculptures using ice paper, sliced vegetables, and different fungi. They needed to be tiny, because my world had become small. And I challenged myself to play with the materials and various degrees of transparency, to let light into my thoughts. I decided to create 30 artworks, representing the 30 days of April 2020. It took me a whole year before I was ready to present these artworks to the outside world. So in April 2021, I released one artwork each day as a way to celebrate the resilience of society during a pandemic. 

Instagram: @marieke_matthijs