I visited an art exhibition in Amsterdam recently and had the opportunity to speak with one of the artists who exhibited her work.

When I asked Danish-born artist, Hanne Winkler, about her creative process, I was fascinated to hear how she incorporated snippets of memories into her canvases from her experiences of living and travelling around the world. A holiday in Greece, apartment-living in Hong Kong, a favourite bridge in London…

Using photography to capture an image, Hanne later refers to the photographs when she’s back in her studio as inspiration for her painted canvases.

“I’ve always been fascinated by small details,” said Hanne. “Cracks in pavements, rivets in metal, paint peeling from walls, remnants of old notices on doors.”

The creative process is highly personal. Confronted by the same image of a bridge, for example, individuals will observe, interpret and find inspiration in different ways. One person may focus on the bridge in relation to the river and nearby buildings, another will highlight the pedestrians and vehicles on the bridge, while another will be inspired by the colours and patterns of the bridge.

Behind each interpretation of an image are personal stories, each memory shaping the creative process. “Whenever I visited Vauxhall Bridge in London,’ said Hanne, “the rusty-red colour reminded me of the time I lived in Hong Kong and the ways the colour red is used in furniture, textiles and so many objects in Hong Kong.”

Creativity does not end when the artist adds the final dab of paint and the artwork hangs on the wall. Viewers then have the opportunity to observe, interpret and find inspiration from the artwork in their own unique way.

When I viewed Hanne’s artwork Sleeping Dragons at the exhibition, I had a flashback to the folding red doors I had seen in numerous temples in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Whether we are the creator or observer of an original work of art – and whether that work is a painting, sculpture, song or book – we observe, interpret and find inspiration in ways which are unique to us.


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