Anne Ten Donkelaar


Anne Ten Donkelaar presents unique facets of healing and storytelling in her work by reconstructing found natural objects into reborn works of art. Her visually stunning and ornate flower constructions are a lively explosion of color, shapes and layers. With refined precision and skill she cuts and shapes paper, dried flowers and leaves into intricate floral landscapes. In her transformational broken butterflies series she mends damaged specimens into magical creatures that are full of life. With each butterfly, she assesses its needs and, almost like a butterfly doctor, designs new body parts. A balloon in place of a missing wing, mimicking destroyed wing patterns with embroidery and a propeller to give the power of movement back to torso-less butterfly. Carefully framed in shadow boxes, they convey a compelling marriage of delicacy and drama, life and death. The discarded insects and plants she finds carry stories that have yet to be revealed, she imagines what their stories may be and in doing so reveals its intrinsic beauty.


What excites you most about creating your art?

When I work on the “Flower constructions” it always surprises me to see were it’s going to end. I start with a combination of flowers and colors and then I let my feelings guide me. The starting point can be completely different than the end result.

The intricate nature of your work requires tremendous precision. Was it a challenge to gain the skills and patience required of your art?

Very often I worked with fragile and small objects so I guess that the skills came with the years, but I must say that it was challenging to put a butterfly into a glass ball through the hole of a 1 cm. like I did in the glass necklaces.


What is your earliest memory of creating art?

I think it was in school at the age of 6, I made a doll from paper mâché with paint and wool.

What long-term dreams and goals are you striving towards currently and how do you keep motivated and inspired each step of the way?

One of the things that keeps inspiring me is of course flowers. I’ve loved them since I was a little girl. I keep looking for new flowers that I haven’t seen before.
Good reactions, feedback and interest from people is motivating. Also I like to have couple of projects going at the same time so when I’m a bit fed up with one, I always can work on something else.vIn the future I really want to make a children's book and to work more on large-scale special installations.




Your work is full of life, hope and magic! Where do you think your fascination with giving a second life to your subjects comes from?

When I find objects in the nature like butterflies, flowers or twigs, often they are damaged or something is missing but they still look very much alive. I wanted to repair them and give them a new life by fixing the missing parts or to add what is necessary. It can be a new body to a butterfly or a paper flower to a twig.

Describe your studio environment or usual workspace. Do you listen to music while working?

My studio is white and light with big windows. When I look outside I see trees and birds and I really love it. When working I mostly listen to the radio. I like to have something on the background like music or talk, something not boring.