Isabelle van Zeijl is an established mid-career international acclaimed artist. Recognized for her mastery to create striking self portraits (with orchids) with depth and meaning who enriches life, possessing lasting and impressionable depth and value. We spoke to her about her passion for the orchid and more. Read the interview below. 

Flowers are a source of inspiration for you. How did that come about?
The first flowers appeared on Earth some 114 million years ago. Much later flowers would play an essential part in the evolution of human consciousness. People felt very attracted to flowers. Flowers were the first thing that they experienced where there was no link with survival, but that offered inspiration. Seeing the beauty in the flower would connect people to their true nature.
Beauty is very important in my work. I believe that if you surround yourself with beauty – and that can be done with art, but also with other objects or with flowers, for example – it has an enormous impact on people’s well-being, increasing their resonance and energy. I mainly find this beauty in nature.

And what do you specifically like about the orchid (Phalaenopsis)?
The most highly coveted of ornamental plants, the delicate and graceful orchid represents love, femininity, beauty and strength. Orchids have a magical quality. The genus Phalaenopsis was identified in 1825 by a Dutch botanist on the island of Java. The story goes that during one of his journeys he saw a group of butterflies practically motionless whirling by a tree. These turned out to be orchids. Like a metaphor for profound change in the cycles of our lives, moving from one state to another, the butterfly’s remarkable shape-shifting journey carries an important message. It’s an inspiring message that teaches us that growth and transformation need not be traumatic or painful, but rather liberating and joyful, a natural part of life’s continuous unfolding. I was also looking for butterflies when I found orchids. My series of photographic self-portraits show me wearing an extraordinary headdress woven from the flowers. The original idea was to use butterflies. It was during a difficult period for me. I was cut off from the world for about six months, going through difficult times. And when I came out I wanted to make a headpiece out of butterflies. For many reasons, butterflies were not suitable for making the piece. So then I was looking for a flower, and intuitively I chose orchids. I always pick the elements and materials on an intuitive basis. Later, when researching the significance of the chosen material, I discovered the botanist’s similar journey. “I thought: I have chosen butterflies!”

What are you most proud of and why?
I am proud when my collectors tell me that they want to surround themselves with beauty and choose my work. That it helps them to become better or to heal. That not only makes me proud, but also intensely grateful.

Your floral artworks are featured in international media. How did that come about? 
The work has appeared on the cover of Harpers Bazaar, but also extensively in Forbeswhen I started working with the orchids from growers’ dumpsters because they had to destroy 80% of their flowers.
At Harpers Bazaar they embrace my art because of its authenticity and multiple layers: the work is not only beautiful to look at, but also contains a meaningful message. I am my own model – I am a woman with a life, not a model onto whom the fashion world projects its unachievable beauty ideals and saddles (young) women with an impossible ideal of beauty, but a woman who shows a new ideal of beauty: be yourself and show who you are and what drives you.

What do you think of the Dutch floriculture sector?
We have an enormously rich culture and history in floriculture, and this abundance of beauty is an inexhaustible source of inspiration for me. Flowers are perhaps appreciated even more internationally than here.

What can we expect from you in the future?
I’m currently working on a series of flowers with healing properties. A series that again shows that nature contains all the answers; an intelligent system from which we still have a great deal to learn.

Do you want to know more about this talented woman or do you want one of these beautiful artworks at home? Visit her website for more information.

Images: Isabelle van Zeijl

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