• photography Sandra Myhrberg

    hair & makeup Alicia Hurst & Filippa Finn

    all scarves The Silk Vault

    foundation Lumene 16 hour longwear foundation 0.5
    concealer glossier stretch concealer g11
    blush Lumene skin tone perfector 4 berry blush
    eyeshadow makeup store microshadow white
    lips MAC paintstick Black Black

    “The Silk Vault” Unveiled: Anna Möller's Artistic Odyssey in Crafting Timeless Silk Scarves and Embracing Ethical Fashion

    Written by Alicia Hurst by Filippa Finn

    Anna Möller, the creative force behind The Silk Vault, graciously provides insights into the enchanting world of her unique scarf designs. With a background in fashion design, garment pattern making, and a wealth of cultural experiences from London, New York, and now Stockholm, Anna's journey shapes the brand's identity and design language. The Silk Vault's commitment to sustainability and ethical practices stands out in an industry dominated by fast fashion, emphasising the creation of timeless, limited-edition pieces. In this interview, Anna delves into her creative process, inspirations drawn from architecture, arts, travel, music, and subcultures, and the brand's philosophy of exclusivity. Join us on a captivating exploration of the artistic journey that culminates in each meticulously crafted silk accessory, embodying a fusion of Anna's diverse influences and a fervent dedication to enduring beauty in fashion.

    Can you share more about the creative process behind your unique scarf designs, and how you draw inspiration from architecture, arts, travel, music, and subcultures?
    Each of my scarf patterns start from an initial idea of inspiration. That idea is then researched and sketched up – by hand or digitally. Once the motif is sketched up, I add colour and play around with it, exploring the best and strongest layout.
    Incorporating a beautiful border design is an important part of the overall impression. I love designing the scarves with different patterns or colours in each corner. The idea is that the bearer can vary the expression of the scarf, depending on how it is knotted and draped on the body. I consider each and every detail of the design and aim to make each scarf a sustainable and lovable accessory to wear often and for years to come.
    I draw inspiration from everywhere and anywhere, high and low. A vast source for new ideas comes from visiting new places; exploring architecture, local craft, and nature.
    During a weekend trip to Florence, Italy, I visited the cathedral and noticed an unusual clock on the wall that took my breath away. I instantly realised it had to be turned into a scarf motif and got on my knees on the cathedral floor to photograph the marble tiles, which had stunning green and salmon pink tints. The tiles turned into patterns around the clock motif of the scarf, which got the name Firenze.
    I’ve had the opportunity to travel in Japan a couple of times, and their art and design is an endless source of inspiration to me. The Silk Vault signature silk tunics are inspired by the simplicity of the kimono cut, then decorated with prints. My scarf designs often have a nod to Japanese design too.
    The hand-painted scarf Orchid came about after stumbling across an international orchid exhibition in Okinawa, Japan.
    Whilst on a factory work trip to Hangzhou, China, I managed to sneak away for a few hours to visit the local silk market, where I spotted beautifully hand-painted silk pieces with the specific style of the region. I fell in love with the technique and decided to explore it for The Silk Vault’s collection. During the same afternoon I got on a dragon boat and watched the sunset over The West Lake and the surrounding mountains. I had a few magical hours that afternoon that led to multiple design ideas. The dragon boat can be spotted on the new scarf Jubilee, from the latest collection.
    A person in my life that has meant the most to me creatively is my aunt, the late artist Ingegerd Möller. She taught me about composition, colours and how the eyes should travel in an artwork. She gave me lots of art books which was the start of my art book collection. I frequently refer to my favourite artbooks, and one of them is about Diaghilev and his Ballet Russes.
    I love listening to music when I work. A great way for me exploring new music is through the BBC 6 Music app. Independent dj’s have their regular shows, without restricted, commercial playlists. Two of my favourite dj’s there are Iggy Pop and Huey Morgan who both play eclectic music mixes where I have discovered lots of great new and old music.
    I met my fiancée through music. He is a dj and is part of a music movement, Funk Freaks, a dj collective based out of Santa Ana. The Street Funk movement is originally part of the Orange County Chicanx culture, but it has spread worldwide and they have a following in Europe and Asia too. I met so many inspirational people through music, and I think fashion and music really go hand in hand. My favourite (Modern) Funk artist and singer, Moniquea, has become one of my muses when I design.

    The Silk Vault's emphasis on limited editions and exclusivity is intriguing. Could you explain the reasoning behind this approach and how it aligns with your brand's philosophy?
    Ten years ago, I was working in London as a design director for a company designing and producing collections for retailers in the UK and France. We focused mainly on nightwear and lingerie with a crafted handwriting and beautiful encrusted lace placements. When I first joined the company we used beautiful silk fabrics, prints and French laces, but over the years and following the world economy, the products became more simplified. Silk got replaced with polyester, French laces with cheaper copies, and chasing low prices and high volumes became the focus.
    I fell out of love with my work in fashion, which had started from a love of arts, beautiful textiles and craftsmanship. I had never chosen to work with fast fashion, but this is what my job turned into. I felt frustrated and wanted to leave the fashion industry but was realistic enough to realise I couldn’t afford to leave work as it is very expensive living in London.
    I felt a huge urge to get my creative outlet into designing something that was not commercially led by price or the predicted colour of the season. I wanted to create something beautiful that would be allowed time to develop, would last and be desirable enough to keep. The opposite to fast fashion.
    I always loved working with silk, and as I had visited many silk factories and mills in the Far East silk districts on my work trips, I was familiar with the printing and manufacturing process.
    As a teenager I inherited a chest of scarves from a well-travelled neighbour, which was the start of my scarf collecting. When I started travelling in the Far East with work, I was often away for two weeks at a time. In the evenings there was time to kill, purchasing silk scarves from markets and hotel shops became a hobby. Thanks to the scarf collecting, I started analysing coloration and thinking of design improvements of the scarves I had bought. The border could always be slightly more interesting, or there should have been a different shade in that corner, and so on.
    I decided to start my own silk scarf brand on the side of my employment, and in complete secrecy, just in case it wouldn’t be popular with my bosses. I choose the name The Silk Vault, as you store your most precious belongings in a vault. This was my own precious project.
    All scarves are made in exclusive, limited-edition pieces, because it is more special buying a scarf that was only made in say, ten or twenty pieces, rather than mass-produced. My customers love the fact that they buy something that is unique and can’t be seen everywhere. For me, selling thousands of scarves is not important.

    Anna Möller's personal connection to silk scarves is fascinating. How has her background in fashion design and garment pattern making influenced the brand's aesthetic and design choices?
    Ever since being a child I have enjoyed drawing, sewing and creating. I studied textiles and tailoring in high-school, pattern-making at Tillskärarakademien in Stockholm and have a BA Fashion Design degree from University of Westminster, London.
    I have worked in various disciplines within the fashion industry; as a designer, sample seamstress, production and pattern making. I love all parts of the creative process and love how a collection comes together when everything works together.
    For me print design, fashion design, pattern making and proportions all go hand in hand. Apart from The Silk Vault, I work as a pattern maker & technical designer for a Swedish brand. I love my work there, for me all work is connected and generates ideas.
    When I design prints for The Silk Vault I create a story in my mind where I see the motifs as part of a story. I envision the styling, the models and the music they listen to, the venue and the styling.
    When shooting a collection, it is important to me to communicate an overall feeling. It’s not just about the scarf prints. I love styling and spend a lot of time making styling garments to get exactly the look and fit I want. Sometimes I print fabric up just to make styling garments. Then I create the patterns and sew the garments myself. It is a lot of work, but it's so satisfying when you manage visualising and communicating your idea.
    I have been lucky enough working with an amazing photographer all these years, London- based Johanna Nyholm. She has a fantastic way of capturing the models, and it is through her lens my designs come to life.

    With your founder's experiences in London, New York, and now Stockholm, how have these diverse cultural influences shaped The Silk Vault's identity and design language?
    I lived in London for eighteen years, which has influenced my life vastly. London is a cultural mishmash and a strangely functioning and beautiful chaos. Living there you meet so many wonderful people, you get exposed to weird situations and experience life in highs and lows. It is a melting pot of hard-working people and there is so much happening on the cultural scene. In East London where I lived the last few years, there were new shops, galleries and restaurants opening every week.
    I was located in New York for a few months for a job, which was a wonderful experience too. As in London, I love the contrasts of highbrow and lowbrow within the culture scene, different neighbourhoods, bars and shops. What I also love about New York is the high energy and buzz.
    When working abroad, I always felt quite connected with my Swedish roots and heritage in terms of my creative hand-writing. However, since moving back to Sweden this has changed and I don’t see The Silk Vault as a typical Swedish brand. The style is a combination of all my experiences and influences, and some kind of minimal maximalism and luxury meets street.

    Sustainability and ethical practices are important topics in the fashion industry today. How does The Silk Vault approach sustainability in the production of its silk accessories?
    All The Silk Vault’s products are designed in Stockholm and carefully developed together with specialist printers and manufacturers. Each design is attentively considered and is only released when it is perfect.
    The Silk Vault’s aim is to design original products that are durable and beautiful enough to wear your whole life and then be handed down to a relative or friend. Each piece should stand the test of time. The products are always made in exclusive, limited-edition quantities.
    The Silk Vault’s products are kept in the web-shop as long as they are available in stock, and we think the design is relevant and beautiful. They do not get taken down from the shop just because they are from the last season. A good design is timeless.
    No products are ever thrown away. Any left-over products are either gifted or used as fabric to re-make new garments or for example used as linings. We only use the highest quality fabrics and materials that look and feel special. This adds to a long life span of the product.
    We want our products to have the highest possible quality. Therefore, we only work with leading experts with niche skills and experience in silk manufacturing and printing.
    The Silk Vault’s main products are made in Lake Como, Italy and in the traditional silk districts of Suzhou, Hangzhou and Guangzhou, China. Other products, such as t-shirts and truckers are printed and embroidered locally in Sweden, whenever possible.
    We believe in collaborating with partners with fairness and in a respectful manner. All collections are made in small-scale production, and we work with manufacturers compliant with BCSI and SEDEX certificates.
    We avoid using plastic and use recycled or recyclable paper packaging wherever possible. Scarves are delivered wrapped in tissue paper inside a hand-made cardboard box, created from recycled and compostable paper in Cornwall, England.
    Silk is one of the strongest natural fibres, and if you care for your silk pieces they will last for many years to come and over generations.
    We encourage our customers to air their scarves or clothing instead of washing them too often. On our website we have a page for how to look after silk scarves in the best way.

    Can you tell us about any upcoming collections or collaborations that The Silk Vault is currently working on or planning for the future?
    Right now, we are planning a pop-up event at Mosebacke, Stockholm, at the beginning of December. As we currently only sell online, it's nice to showcase the collection in real life to show the beautiful materials. It's how the collections really should be seen.
    We have been invited to exhibit at a design show in Malmö 2024, which should be really exciting.
    We have just started talking about doing a digital collaboration together with a tv-collector and digital creator, which would be something new and fun.
    We are also starting to design a new upcoming collection of scarves and accessories.

    In a world where fast fashion dominates, what message or values do you hope customers take away from The Silk Vault's commitment to creating timeless, limited-edition pieces?
    My wish is that people stop overconsumption of fashion and buy less items with higher quality that will last longer. Think about what you feel good wearing and build your own unique style around that, rather than buying into seasonal trends and throw-aways. Accessorising with silk scarves is a fun and great way of adding colour and luxe to even a basic wardrobe. And you can share them with your partner, flatmate and family for variation.

    foundation Lumene 16 hour longwear foundation 0.5
    concealer glossier stretch concealer g11
    blush glossier generation G Jam
    eyes Beauty Act Multi-Skilled liner Smokey Azure &
    Linda Hallberg spectral palette
    Abstract &
    LH cosmetics Sparkl
    foundation Lumene 16 hour longwear foundation 0.5
    concealer glossier stretch concealer g11
    blush glossier generation G Jam
    lips Natasha Denona Baby gold palette Oro

    foundation Lumene 16 hour longwear foundation 0.5
    concealer glossier stretch concealer g11
    blush MAC paintstick Process Magenta
    eyeshadow MAC connect in colour rose lens

    Strong Connection Pink.Net &

    LH cosmetics shimmer saga Passion

    lips glossier generation G Jam

    photography Sandra Myhrberg

    hair & makeup Alicia Hurst & Filippa Finn

    model Mia / MIKAs

    all scarves The Silk Vault


    Written by Yasmine

    This year, the focus is not only on the 24 days calenders, but the amazing 12 days boxes as well - filled with suprises and best-sellers. These are the most favorable gift sets and calanders to get.

    Rituals - The Ritual of Advent 2D and Premium Calander 2023
    The Christmas calendar of all calendars for the Scandinavians, is the classic Ritual of Advent. This year, the brand has not been afraid to go even more extravagant. The calendar comes in three sizes, from the 2D set similar to a magical London townhouse to Premium containing a 3D village, where you build your own christmas city. Both lovely to have on the table as decoration. The options are filled with suprises that will make you smile, with Rituals favorites from bath soaps, candles, and skincare. Find it here.

    Body Shop - Ultimate Advent of Change Advent Calender 2023
    Ultimate Advent of Change is dedicated to the beauty fanatic. The calendar is packed with trusted full-size bestsellers, gorgeous skincare, accessories and everything else you need to pamper yourself this December.
    Think outside the box and discover an even more beautiful Christmas together with Edelweiss Smoothing Day Cream, iconic Mango Body Butter, Vitamin C Face Polish, and the wonderfully scented Banana Shampoo along with much more.

    Estèe Lauder Blockbuster 2023
    A great thing with Holiday boxes is that you get the opportunity to try new products. For the first timers of Estèe Lauder, this is for you. The Blockbuster gives you all the brands bestsellers from the Advanced Night Serum and Eye Cream, to their lipsticks and eye shadow palette. All wrapped in a beautiful red velvet case, for your travels. I will definitely use mine daily. A magical gift to give to yourself this holiday. Find it here

    Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk Gift Set
    The glittery Pillow Talk makeup vault is back for 2023, with 14 full-size makeup icons. As someone that is new to the brand, this gift set is perfect to try the brands popular icons. The gift set includes Hollywood Glow Glide Face Architect Highlighter in Pillow Talk Glow, Pillow Talk Beautifying Face Palette and Pillow Talk Matte Beauty Blush Wand, alongside 11 other Pillow Talk Icons for your eyes, lips and cheeks. Not to mention, it's smartly packaged in a luxurious box with its own mirror and is set in a rose gold touch. Find it here 

    NYX Professional MakeUp Ready. Set. Flamin-Go
    A calendar to give to the teenager or someone who loves color, is this Ready. Set. Falmin-Go gift from NYX. The brand understands that it can be hard to wait for all those 24 gifts, so this year, they are giving us everything at once. Open up each of our 24 full-sized products at the same time - for a true unboxing experience. Get ready for eyeshadow to lip gloss, to blush, and highlighter. Not to mention some accessories. Find it here.

    NIVEA MEN Calendar
    Since this year we are only recommending gifts that are all usable, one of those gift boxes is this calendar from NIVEA. Say hello to 24 products of lip balm, face mask, body lotion, face cream and deodorant and other surprises. A perfect gift for the skincare beginner or the more experienced skincare enthusiast. Countdown the days until Christmas with products both from NIVEA and Labello for a moment for yourself. Find it here.

    KIEHL'S Limited Edition Holiday Advent Calendar
    There is no better time to try Kiehls products than winter. The brand is celebrated for their rich skincare, and this calendar is packed with it. This year, the Christmas calendar is designed by the artist duo Icinori, who create art with elements of fantasy. With 24 surprises in skin and hair care, face cleanser, face cream, serum, face masks and much more. Find the calander here.


    LUSH Advent Calendar 2023
    Treat yourself to 25 sumptuously scented vegan products from the brands 2023 advent calendar. Expect exclusive festive treats such as the Jingle Jelly shower jelly, Boogie Woogie soap and Christmas Eve Candle, alongside all-year-round favourites and classic products. The calandar is packaged in a limited edition box designed by Andre Williams of Trifle Studio. When the festivities are over, the box can be reused as storage for your future Lush products. Find the calander here.

    BABOR Advent Calender 
    Good luck in a hatch! Every day for 24 days, a surprising boost awaits your skin. Behind the doors of this year's calendar, our magical ampoules hide, 2 ml of active skincare in its most concentrated form. Super serums that take your skincare routine to a whole new level. Give your skin a gift every day or crack one open when you need an extra boost; you'll receive ampoules from our original range and upgraded Doctor Babor ampoules. Discover the magic of adding an ampoule to your skincare! Find it here.

    24 Days of Clinique Calendar
    With the Clinique Holiday Advent Calendar, you can get all of your old and new favorites in a beautiful treat. Experience the enchanting Advent season with new beauty items with 24 days of clinique. With everything from their most loved skincare, beauty products, and body care - perfect to give to someone who loves this iconic brand. Find it here.


    article updated 28th Nov / change of text

  • Intersections of Art: Astrid Jensen Kruse and Marjolein Rothman

    Written by Natalia Muntean

    “It felt very natural. My paintings speak about photography, and Astrid’s work revolves around photography, but it is very painterly. And we have similar motivations for why we do the work,” says Dutch painter Marjolein Rothman about the shared exhibition with Danish artist Astrid Kruse Jensen. Brought together by Björn Wetterling, the artists have come back to Stockholm with exhibitions currently gracing the walls of Wetterling Gallery. “He suggested that we should share the exhibition, knowing each other's work very well. We had a good feeling about it and it made sense,” explains Kruse Jensen the idea behind the shared exhibition.

    “Resonance” by Astrid Kruse Jensen is somewhat of an existential journey catalysed by personal loss, while Marjolein Rothman returns with a series of paintings titled “Orange and Teal”, exploring ideas of fleetingness and the human condition. Even though different at first glance, their artistic trajectories and the current exhibitions hosted by Wetterling Gallery, deeply rooted in personal narratives and explorations of identity, intertwine seamlessly.

    Natalia Muntean sat down with the artists as they peeled back the layers of their creative minds, offering glimpses into their profound motivations, divergent mediums, and the intersections that define their artistic journeys.

    Natalia Muntean: I would like to know more about the exhibition and how you approached it. Did you treat it as two completely separate exhibitions, or was there a dialogue about it?
    Astrid Jensen Kruse:
    Marjolein and I had participated in group exhibitions together before, and this project space of Wetterling Gallery, which feels more like a two-space gallery, allows for exhibitions to communicate with each other, yet remain separate. It's like Marjolein said - there's so much linked between our work, even though it looks different. The strokes of light, for example. My work is photographic, but because of the chemical traces and the strokes of light, it also has this painterly touch. We both use ourselves as a starting point, drawing from life experiences like grief, loss, and love. It emanates from a deep, personal interest rooted in our hearts, but we want to make it universal, so anyone can relate.

    NM: Seems as if you take an essence of yourselves and transmit it through photographs and pictures?
    Marjolein Rothman:
    Yes, and also in our way of working, we take a step back, becoming more analytical while maintaining a strong, personal motivation. I have moments of reflection, considering what works and what doesn't. As a painter, you stand in a long tradition, so what do you do then? I chose classical subjects like architecture, self-portraiture, and flowers. For me, that was daring because painting flowers was the only thing that women were allowed to do. But then I tried to do something that is maybe different and that is also a motivation.
    AJK: I am not afraid to work with something beautiful, while always incorporating an element of disturbance. It's never just beautiful; there are always cracks, a duality between beauty and pain, love and loss, darkness and light. This shimmering between these elements is constant. It's quiet and moving at the same time.
    MR: And that also depends on how you approach the medium. You, Astrid, choose photographic material that is expired for example. I use just two colours, let the painting appear, and that's it. I don't want to create a fixed image that I build up; I want the work to be in this in-between state, reflecting movement, transformation, and vastness. This is very important to both of us. It's about fleetingness. I care less about traditional norms in painting and more about the direct expression of ideas. Painting isn't solely about technique; it's about conveying what you want to show. Failure is part of the process - erasing, building, scraping - until the light appears, and the image emerges. It's been a journey in painting, but I love it.

    NM: When do you know a painting or photograph is ready?
    It's linked to a specific moment, much like photography. The connection to the image and the mood during its creation are crucial. I don't precisely know beforehand what I'll paint, but I have a general idea. I work within a short time, around 10 or 20 minutes, and once that's done, the piece is finished. I want the painting to mirror the state of being when I made it. I can't go back and add strokes; the energy needs to be captured in that moment.

    NM: You don't alter it after?
    No, sometimes I conclude, but altering it feels different energetically. The brushstrokes and everything else reflect the making process, and that's crucial.

    NM: It sounds like they live their own lives, and you're just the medium. What about your process, Astrid?
    I think my process is slower. Most often, I write about my images before finding a location. I photograph the same place multiple times. Sometimes, you're there, see the light, and you just know without really seeing or understanding how the chemicals will react; you know this will be it. I prefer getting to know the locations beforehand. That's why I return and photograph again. I place them all on the studio walls and start making selections. It's a slow process, but sometimes, seeing ten pictures laid out, I just know which are the ones. It's different each time, but there's a feeling within, a certain knowing. You can't explain it exactly, but you feel it.
    MR: Do you sense it when you take a photo?
    AJK: Sometimes when I enter a space, see the light, and I know, inexplicably, I have to be there. Other times, I revisit, seeking a different angle or adjustment. It's about understanding the space I work in.
    MR: There's a magical element too, as Astrid mentions the writing and the wonder of it all. I often tell students that while we can teach painting techniques, the wonder doesn't come from that. It's about the spontaneous moments, influenced by everything – the walk to the studio, conversations, films watched. Sometimes, despite efforts, nothing happens, and other times, it just clicks. There's an attempt at control, rituals like using a certain palette, but ultimately, you want things to happen on their terms. Setting the stage for it to happen is key.

    NM: Astrid, you mentioned the title Resonance - how do you interpret and adapt this concept in your work?
    It’s the duality of the word 'resonance' that I've been working with and used as a title for the exhibition. It's so beautiful and I was inspired by the German sociologist Hartmut Rosa. He writes that resonance is when you experience things falling into place. It's not about material wealth or physical beauty, but those moments when you might be sitting on a bench, the light hits a certain way, and suddenly, you're filled with a sense of something special and it might arrive when you least expect it. I started this exploration after my husband died in 2019, an event that changed every element of my life. And of course, this experience made me question life's meaning. So, for me, it became an existential journey—to learn to live with the loss, while I also appreciated what I had. And this longing resonated for me, and I was looking for a location where artists before me had experienced some of the same questions. I found this artists’ home built by a woman, a Danish architect. They were still together and hadn't necessarily experienced the loss I did, but they wondered about life's essential elements: a place to live, work, have a family, and find meaning in life. So for me, while looking for these answers, it was important to find a place where people had done that before me. I experienced it not just as the artists´ home but used the house as a location —a stage for something beyond architectural dimensions, something more metaphysical and abstract. Being able to work there while it was empty was like a gift because then I could walk through this home, which was more like walking through a painting because every room has its own colours. The kids who grew up there did not talk about what was in the rooms; instead, they referred to them by colour. These rooms represented hope, dreams, and memories. I felt that this location could kind of provide a lot of what I was looking for.

    NM: I have to ask, is that you in the picture?
     No, no. But it's good to ask because my models look like me. It's a common experience, even with painters—to seek models you can somehow relate to. Throughout my work using models, I've always searched for someone I could identify with. It took me a while to realise that they looked like me.

    NM: Is that your way of taking a step back?
    For me, yes. I prefer standing on the other side, controlling every little element. So that's also why it mustn't be me. But I think that even though it looks like me, I also hope that it could look like you or that other people could identify with it. But I hope that also by turning their back on you, it's an invitation for the viewer to relate to the photo. 

    NM: What about you, Marjolein? Is that you in your paintings?
    It is, but I can also relate to what Astrid said because I used to speak about myself and other women through pictures of others. I've made a series of portraits of 19th-century Catholic saints, because the Catholic church uses beauty and sexuality to promote their values, and tried to examine how it is to be a woman in this world, what we represent, and what is expected of us. After that, I made a series in the same kind of manner using friends of mine in an attempt to show that we are all the same and we can all represent those values. This is how I used to work and sometimes I would make a self-portrait facing away, to invite viewers to put themselves in the subject's place. In this present exhibition, there is a self-portrait that is difficult because she looks at you, but she also looks into the mirror, at herself. I speak in the third person but it’s me because I photographed myself and then it became a painting. As women, we are used to being mostly the subject of the pictures, and if somebody takes a picture of you, the person who takes the photograph is the person in power. But in the case of my paintings, she takes a picture of herself and she chooses how she depicts herself. If I compare it to the other portraits, it's the first time I’ve made such a daring self-portrait. The self-portraits and the flower series speak about different stages in life, fleetingness, how beauty slips away, and that you cannot hold on to a specific moment, but also about the different roles - what's my role in life? What is my identity?
    AJK: I think if you refer to all the male painters, they will have a muse. And then you're your own muse, and I think that's empowerment.
    MR: That is also true, but it's difficult because I also don't want to be vain, so I'm examining my position now.
    AJK: There is this Finnish photographer, Elina Brotherus, who's using herself all the time, but not in self-portraits. She says, “It's not me, it's a photograph.” And this refers to both of our works. We use ourselves and our bodies. Even though they look like us; it's a photograph or a painting.
    MR: Yes, it also speaks about representation. What does a portrait mean? What does it want to say? What does somebody else see? Who sees the portrait?

    NM: Marjolein, could you tell me a bit more about the two colours, orange and teal?
    Lately I have been painting in blue and red hues. In the flower series, the colour evolved from almost monochrome paintings to black and then more and more colour, eventually focusing on these two. It's also tied to my exploration of Mondrian's work during his move towards abstractions, for example, his depiction of trees. When seen in person, his paintings are almost blinding, they demand attention and are so intense. He painted a red and yellow mill with such intense colours that people thought he was going mad. But he said that he was actually looking into the sun and then at the world and this is what it looked like to him. This concept interested me. So I use these colours to have this kind of effect that you can look at the picture, but almost not, your eyes can hardly focus. And then I found out that these two colours, 'Orange and Teal', are also often used in filmmaking and photography, where you have the cooler hues in the background and the reds to highlight the subject. But I want everything to fuse. So, I called it “Orange and Teal” because of its reference to film and photography. It's about these colours evoking something together and challenging the traditional connotations. Here, the subject isn't just in the foreground or the background. It may seem technical to express that I desire this blurring, but essentially, similar to what Astrid mentioned earlier – I wanted to express something timeless.

    NM: But regarding the exhibition, you utilised expired Polaroid films. Can you explain how this choice helped you capture fleeting and ever-changing moments or aspects in your photography?
    I think what I kind of realised by actually moving away from the perfectly shot photograph was that by using a material which also had some unexpected elements and traces of the chemicals that I would never really know exactly how they reacted, I felt somehow that made it even clearer for me. The Polaroid camera, the one that I use, has technical limitations that I find interesting, and after I take the photographs, the Polaroid is more like my negative. So I scan the polaroids afterwards, and then from there, I can enlarge it. And of course, because it's so tiny, then the lack of sharpness becomes even clearer. I think you kind of give yourself some limitations, but these limitations open up a lot. Because within a new frame, you have to push yourself to do things differently.

    NM: It seems like you pushed boundaries by amplifying these imperfections, resulting in beautiful interplays with light. And Marjolein, in your painting series, you employ low contrast and parallel lines. Could you explain how they convey the transformation you aim to capture?
    Normally, you would see the subjects in the front. In my paintings, even if you can identify a subject, like a flower, by lowering contrast, its visibility diminishes. Your eyes move, trying to grasp what you're seeing. It’s also connected with how we shape our ideas, politically or otherwise. Everything is moving. Everything is uncertain. And we cannot deal with it actually, I think. But I think we should be aware that we are constantly changing and forming our ideas.

    NM: So you let viewers work a little for the image.
    Yes, I hope so!

    NM: You mentioned losing your husband, Astrid, and I'm curious to understand how this process of creating art serves as a means of processing your emotions. Was it a healing journey for you to go into this house and create this image?
    AJK:  No, I don't see my work as therapy, not to get over something or learn to live with it. I see it more as the loss creating this urge within me to work with the notion of resonance, something I was engaged with. For example, the show I did before, “Floating,” was also about the stage of being present and absent. My art isn't therapy, it won't heal me, but it reflects what's going on within me. It's a process where I feel it shows more about me, not just my story but something universal.
    MR: What I find interesting is that sometimes people ask, “What do you want to tell with your work?” But when it comes to my work, I also have questions. There's always a question!
    AJK: Yes, it's about how it is to be in the world. How is it to be human?
    MR: And I still don't know…
    AJK: But I think this honest curiosity leads to finding a way, maybe different than before.

    NM: So do you create to find answers to some questions, or do you create because you already found some answers and you want to share them with the world?
    No, I think I always thought that art for me was to create something open-ended that raises questions and curiosity and to look at what you maybe think you know, and then question it. For me, it's about opening new ways of being in the world, rather than just answering questions.
    MR: That's interesting to me as well. And sometimes people can engage with it, but I'm not aiming at that. It’s about exploring questions that I have. I would say it's a way to live, a kind of ritual. I paint and some might find it useless—why spend a lifetime painting? Why would you do that? But it's a way of living through the process. It's about asking questions and it's wonderful when someone else can relate. I don't have a strategy for it, but it's very special when others can also relate to my questions and my work.

    NM: Marjolein, your motives for flowers and self-portraits are described as nods to Vanitas and Memento Mori. How do these references contribute to your exploration of the fleeting nature of life?
    It's always been my theme. I find it very difficult to deal with the concept of things ending. So I have painted flowers from time to time, but never really took on the challenge of painting a whole series of them. And considering the tradition, that is something that you do, you start with. And so I did, I painted flowers for seven years. Looking back, it started when my mom died, so it was quite logical as a theme because of its memento mori connotations. I also found out that it is not only about death, decay, and fleeting beauty but also about something new, it is about transformation.

    NM: And how do you hope the viewers will perceive the connection between your works that are different, but very connected still?
    I hope there's a specific atmosphere here that creates a connection. We talk about concepts and motives, but ultimately, because both our works are rooted in and discuss the human condition, I want people to look at the work and feel something.

    NM: Are there specific emotions you'd like to connect with it?
    I think when it comes to exhibitions, and when it comes to art in general, sometimes you don't get touched at the moment, but then you wake up two days later and realise there was something there and you have to go back and find out. So I hope people will be curious and see the similarities in our approaches, our curiosity on how we work with each medium and the connectedness even though the mediums are different. And I think if people get touched, I'm happy.

    Installation photos: Jean Baptiste Béranger