World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 153 - Saskia E.M. van Dijk

World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 153 - Saskia E.M. van Dijk 

I met Saskia E.M. van Dijk at the opening of the exhibition of students of the City Academy (Stadsacademie) in Opkamer Escamp, The Hague. Saskia is a lecturer at Stadsacademie and ISKETCH, both part of the collective I & ART, which was set up by three people who previously taught at the Koorenhuis.

Saskia is a visual artist herself next to a teacher, she said. We made an appointment.

A big bumblebee

Insects is the one keyword in Saskia's work.

We start with the insects. She makes zinc boxes with knitted insect forms, derived from bumblebees, dragonflies, caterpillars, locusts and the like. The glass panes are made of old etching plates, on which the structures are still clearly visible. They have been put together by soldering.

“On a spring day I walked in the dunes and I looked enthralled at a big bumblebee. This is where the idea was born to start to knit insects more or less to true size and to group them in zinc boxes with a glass top surface.”

Colored sewing thread

“Here I had museum collections as a guide in my head. I was fascinated by those biological collections with boxes in which insects were arranged in rows with the corresponding labels. A year and a half later I realized that I used to see large cupboards with drawers, full of beetles at my fathers house.”

The main form of the insects was made with colored sewing thread. The knitting was done with a darning needle. For the finishing of details she used materials such as nylon thread, cellophane, thin iron wire and thin paper. In fact, there was a mixed technique because in addition to knitting, various techniques came together in the work process. This way of working yielded the desired alienation.

Cowry shells

Another keyword in Saskia's work is Mali. Mali and mixed techniques. She was in that country three times, the last time in 2003, and it impressed her a lot. “What attracted me there was the culture, the colors and the austerity. People need little, of course they do not have much, but it is a 'happy' people ... (back then, before the uprisings). I myself like austerity. I absorbed the country in my mind.“

The starting point was concrete forms of objects and situations. For example cowry shells. “These, and other objects formed starting points for a subsequent investigation into form, color, space, structure and layering that led to a crystallized product with its own tangible 'skin'. I never draw or paint anything to the original, except to study it, I use it as abstraction.”


From 1995 to 2005 she was mainly drawing. And now she is drawing again, and she paints them. “The shells come back in a different context. I draw objects from Mali again, for example African bracelets, but then a part fading. My father is demented, that will have everything to do with those parts that are faded, probably my way of processing. It's a story, my story, by drawing it.”

“I am currently trying to work with as few colors as possible. You can open a color box with 85 colors, I find it more interesting to work from the limitation, with a few colors. I try, by inventive use, to come to an image or form. In a work I do use different materials: charcoal, gouache and pastel chalk.

Even in insect work I only have a few wires, iron wire, paper and some cellophane.”

Royal Academy

Saskia has been drawing and painting for a long time. “We used to have a 'painter's cellar' at home. My father was a graphic artist, he made etchings. We work differently: he was quite realistic, I am looser, more abstract. He was a teacher at the Royal Academy for the Visual Arts in The Hague, at the evening course. The training I also attended, I did one year evening training, then I switched to the day course and graduated in 1988.”

She is quite positive about art life in The Hague. “I also lived in Amsterdam for a short time. There is actually too much culture there for me. You can not see everything if you want to work yourself ...”


“With the Koorenhuis I experienced the suffering of the substantial cutbacks on the subsidy from close by. It is a pity that this has happened and that many small initiatives in The Hague have had to give up. We have a great Gemeentemuseum and the GEM in a new form.”

“I think the building on itself of the Gemeentemuseum is very worthwhile and we have enough galleries to regularly see beautiful things. Also the Filmhuis, all kinds of festivals and for example the Paard van Troje (Trojan Horse). The disappearance of the small theaters is unfortunate, but there are also new additions such as Dakota In The Hague South.”


1) moths, detail, hand-knitted, 2) collection VI, bees, feather moths, 3) mixed technique, 4) cowrie mixed media, 5) moths hand knitted, 6) phyrops knitted, 7) feather moth detail, 8) mixed technique, detail, 9) moths, detail, hand-knitted, 10) Saskia van Dijk, 11) feather moths, hand knitted 



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