Marjolein Starreveld: The symbolism of vice and virtue -

Marjolein Starreveld: The symbolism of vice and virtue

Marjolein Starreveld: The symbolism of vice and virtue

Utrecht based Dutch artist Marjolein Starreveld uses freehand machine embroidery to create her arresting mixed media portraits.

After finishing art school Marjolein started creating contemporary quilts before moving on to hand embroidered collages. Her current phase has developed into a balanced mix of conceptual ideas with a leaning toward technique.

In our interview, Marjolein talks about embracing mistakes as well as expressing her views on the meaning of art.

Textile art by Marjolein Starreveld

Ohne Dich (2011) – 35 x 60cm

A passion for fabric What initially captured your imagination about textile art?
Marjolein Starreveld: Colors, the softness of the material, the atmosphere that textile creates.

What or who were your early influences and how has your life/upbringing influenced your work?
My father worked in the fashion industry. The passion for fabric is in my genes.

What was your route to becoming an artist? (Formal training or another pathway?)
Minerva art school (Groningen) taught me the meaning of art: What do I want to say as an artist?

What is your chosen medium and what are your techniques?
Mixed media. I believe strongly in crossovers with other disciplines.

Two large hangings by Marjolein Starreveld in the Townhall in Utrecht

Exhibition at the Townhall in Utrecht (2013)

Distortion and deformation

How would you describe your work and where do you think it fits within the sphere of contemporary art?
Portraits form the core of my work. Heads that have character, with a penetrating look. Telling you something even though it’s not clear what. I look for the boundaries of where I can transform an image, both in terms of content and technically. I like mistakes; they bring your work to a new level. I use them to progress my work.

I look for the symbolism of vice and virtue, like in the paintings of the old masters. Besides this, there is the distortion and deformation. Like when a plastic surgeon operates on your body with needle and thread. Is this beauty or mutilation?

I confine myself to the cloth, where I shape reality at my own discretion.

Textile art by Marjolein Starreveld

Rosenroth (2012) – 35x50cm

Technological developments

Do you use a sketchbook?
I sketch on the computer, using 5D embroidery and Adobe Photoshop
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What currently inspires you and which other artists do you admire and why?
Since I write articles about textiles I see a lot which influences me. This raises all kinds of questions:
How can I use the technological developments in my work?
Do we embrace all the new stuff or is crafting by hand the way to go?
I love fashion and visit a lot of final shows from Academies. Especially in Antwerp, it’s great.

Tell us about a piece of work you have fond memories of and why?
Hero nr. 9 made me discover that the back of the embroidery has so much power.

Textile art by Marjolein Starreveld

Hero nr. 9 (2011) – 15x10cm

Other resources

Can you recommend 3 or 4 books for textile artists?
Textile is alive – Ellen Bakker – ISBN 9789081847650
Textile visionaries – Bradley Quin – ISBN 9781780670539
Walter van Beirendonck

What other resources do you use? Blogs, websites, magazines etc.
Textiel Plus
Surface Design
And of course,

Artwork by Marjolein Starreveld on the wall of the Townhall in Utrecht

Exhibition at the Townhall in Utrecht (2013)

What piece of equipment or tool could you not live without?
My laptop and my embroidery machine.

Do you give talks or run workshops or classes? If so where can readers find information about these?
I work with students from art schools on an interdisciplinary project. The idea is to make crossovers with embroidery and graphic design, painting, sculpting, etc.

How do you go about choosing where to show your work?
To decide I ask myself the following questions:
Where is the gallery situated?
Do I feel a spark with the gallerist?
Do I sympathize with the concept of the place?

Where can readers see your work this year?
Haven’t decided yet, to busy writing for Textiel Plus and working on ‘Twisted roots’.

For more information on Marjolein please visit:

If you’ve enjoyed this interview why not let us know by leaving a comment below.

Sunday 27th, September 2020 / 12:12

About the author

Joseph Pitcher is the son of textile artist Sue Stone. He is an actor and voice-over artist and has worked at the RSC, the National Theatre, West End theatres and several other leading regional venues across the UK. Find Joe on Google

View all articles by Joe


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3 comments on “Marjolein Starreveld: The symbolism of vice and virtue”

  1. I love your technique, and what amazing results!

    • Joe says:

      Hi Elaine – thanks for being such a great support for the site. We’re so glad you enjoy the work of the artists we interview.

  2. Mariette Naude says:

    Beautiful and inspirational work. I did a course on 17th century Dutch artists in my art studies and found the vice and virtue very interesting. I have been sewing since grade 3 or 4 and want to experiment with textiles and thread in my art making. Marjolein’s work really resonates with me. Thanks for the interview.

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