Dutch born artist Irene Hoff lives and works in Bali, Indonesia, creating beautiful, unique artworks inspired by the nature and culture that surrounds her (dreamy!). After pursuing a vocational career, Irene made the bold decision to pack up, emigrate to Bali and explore her artistic passions - and we're so grateful that she did. From projects exploring the fragility of endangered species, to faded, mysterious portraits, her layered collage works are truly enchanting. Read our exclusive interview with the artist to hear her story, see her works in progress and step into her incredible studio space.
Tell us about the artwork you make. What are the processes you use, and the concepts that lie behind it?
I create art with the intention of revitalising a viewer, and encouraging us to dream again and live without boundaries, like children do. I create layered collages that are imbued with meaning to be uncovered piece by piece. I incorporate hidden symbolic elements within my works, often using feathers, as an icon of wisdom for example. I would describe my art as colourful, mysterious, witty and uplifting. My hope is that my artworks will bring a smile to someone’s face, and draw them into a world of mystery.
When did you know you wanted to be an artist?
Ever since I was a child I have loved art, but my parents were always wary that it would not offer a proper career path for me. However, after graduating from university and having worked for a while as a consultant, my passion returned again, and I chose to pursue it. Now here I am, living and working as an artist, not in my home country but in Indonesia.
What does being creative mean to you?
It means doing what you love without worrying whether it will bring in any money, following the passion, and doing what you came here to do.
How did your interest in endangered species arise?
I live in Bali, Indonesia where many people are very aware of what is happening in the world. Some of my close friends set up a huge project to ban plastic bags in Bali (BBPB) and this inspired me to focus on something close to my heart, and to be the voice of endangered animals through my art.
One of my paintings was signed by the actor and activist Leonardo diCaprio, and sold at an auction, and photojournalist Paul Hilton allowed me to use some of his photographs for inspiration. I get so much energy out of these collaborations with parallel-minded people and I dream of doing more of these projects in the future.
Tell us about your studio space - what do you love about it?
I feel very lucky to have two studio spaces. One is in my house with a view of the swimming pool, where I complete my pre-studies and assemble the materials I plan to use. The other space is a studio in the middle of the nearby rice fields, with a fish pond in the centre which is where I paint my works. I share this space with other talented local artists, which fuels my inspiration and offers a chance for the exchange of creativity: east meets west!
Do you have a favourite or most meaningful piece?
'Orangutan' is very close to my heart, because it has been signed by DiCaprio. Although now I am working on my latest series called ‘Don’t Blow my Cover’, which follows my current life cycle - it’s very personal.
Where do you seek inspiration?
Life experiences, talking with people and discovering the life cycles they go through, my own growth... My life in Bali is a constant source of inspiration - simply living outdoors, enjoying the beautiful scenery and drinking in nature every single day.
What's your favourite travel destination and why?
I love the Indonesian island Floris, where I often stay on a boat and watch all of the wild animals roam in the water (it’s amazing!). I also love to travel back to Holland every summer for our camping trip on the amazing Dutch island called Vlieland.
What’s playing in your studio right now?
Nothing! Only the sounds of nature and the barking of my dog.
What’s your favourite inspirational quote?
‘Everything you can imagine is real’ - Pablo Picasso