The legendary Maria Sibylla Merian, who died exactly three hundred years ago, was a remarkable woman, both as a scientist and as an artist. She spent her life studying metamorphosis of hundreds of insects and plants throughout the seasons. Inspired by the illustrations, Reitsma.Snoep designed four boxes, which she named Florilegia, one for each of the four seasons. Each of the boxes contains 12 photo collages and 5 extra pieces of paper with titles and information about the plants, which the artist considers to be equally important as the photos.
The artist has been working on this project for many years, creating beautiful artworks. The first step in the process for Reitsma.Snoep is researching if plants from the 16th and 17th century drawings still exist and if so, to cultivate these forgotten plant species in her own garden. At some point she picks the flowers and puts them in modern vases. Then she waits for the perfect lighting, for which photography is the perfect medium. She combines the flowers with the old drawings by Merian and others, creating new images in which the past and present are entangled. For each season, Reitsma.Snoep uses different light and colors.
In 2008 Reitsma.Snoep made an exhibition about Maria Sibylla Merian and her daughters, which was shown in Het Rembrandthuis in Amsterdam and the Getty Museum in Los Angeles. For this occasion she wrote a beautiful book with entomologist Sandrine Ulenberg and in 2016 she published the book Maria Sybilla Merian. Vroege Bloemen. Reitsma.Snoeps photomontage works, also inspired by Merians drawings made in Suriname, are currently shown in the exhibition Ode to Maria Sibylla Merian in the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, which is still on show until June 13.
The intriguing images Ella Reitsma.Snoep creates cannot only be seen as an ode to the four seasons, but also reflect on the nature of life and the possibilities of the medium of photography.