Home Sweet Home Series

Mardoe Painter Home Sweet Home Series

by Diana Wind: Art Historian and Curator of Museum Rijswijk

At first glance, the frail images by Mardoe Painter (Doesburg, The Netherlands, 1971) seem serene, but upon closer inspection they scream in silence. The series HOME SWEET HOME was made with 200g acid-free Fabriano paper to create an image in relief, by pricking through, indenting and bruising the paper from the back. The quiet picture that emerges is brought to life by light falling on its surface.

Mardoe Painter opted for this technique not solely to satisfy her monochromatic aesthetic or to play with light and shadow. The technique is also effective in conjuring up the connotations that she feels are appropriate in perforating the material: penetration, sublimation, permanent porosity, stigmatization, but also breathing space, freedom and disclosure. The Instinctive, hand-driven punctures into the paper are forever, just as the damage to a mental state, whether individual or collective. Everyone carries invisible baggage through daily life. Here, quite literally, an inner world is visibly perforated (she also calls it drilled) through the paper by savage mistreatment. The paper also acts as a skin that allows itself to be manipulated.

Her technique and choice of material suit what lies at the heart of the series HOME SWEET HOME. Painter researched post-traumatic stress disorder among veterans the works subtitle is post-traumatic stress disorder among veterans. The work’s subtitle is: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in Military Veterans. The Grant Disillusion of a Sweet Homecoming. It is based on the stories told by soldiers who, as often transpires after returning home, suffer from all they have seen and experienced in war zones. Once home, their lives take a turn: relationships deteriorate, divorce happens, and there can even be (temporary) homelessness. The constant stress and adrenaline coursing through their veins can lead to drug and alcohol abuse. The nights are apparently the hardest. It’s when they are most vulnerable, and actual sleep rarely comes.

For HOME SWEET HOME Painter developed her own symbolism, one that befits the subject matter and is open to double meanings. The titles give a clue to the meanings: (In)Fertile Grounds, So, What’s for Dinner, The Puppeteer. Items that belong to war, such as a helmet, military rucksack and gasmask, referred to temporary shelter (protection when worn), flight (never being able to return home), fear and anxiety. Mushrooms and poppies refer to addiction, but also decline and a short life. Various (nocturnal) animals are depicted such as Birds (a stork), rats, chickens  a monkey’s skull and a jellyfish – symbols for freedom, fertility, renewal, sacrifice, anonymity or insomnia. The meanings of the symbols are not fixed by Mardoe Painter; the titles give the viewer plenty of room to interpret for themselves.


I create with a spontaneous and instinctual approach, which in a sense is giving me access into myself. It is like having a collision occur between the known and the subconscious. My artistic drive is a personal effort to choreograph levels of control in uncontrollable situations.

Stains and Morphology

The first time I can remember being visually triggered, I was about four years old. While visiting churches on holiday with my family, I discovered Jesus (on the cross) with blood markings on his body. I still vividly recollect being in awe of crucifixes, although I was not brought up religious.

I’d noticed that on the various depictions of him the bloodstains never seemed to have the same size, consistency or colour. Nor were they located at the same places on his body. Sometimes there was lots of the red substance, bright red and thick, but more often it was thinly drawn and streaky. In both sculptures or paintings his body itself also morphed in size and shape, ranging from tall and ultra-lean to short and a little chubby. There was this Majestic Grandeur, especially in sculptures, other representations emphasized humanity and weakness. Early on, these contradicting depictions, and later many others, have sparked me visually.


When I was of school age, I remember being fascinated by an illustration (by Jan Marinus Verburg) in my favourite children’s book Tom Tippelaar. One image portrayed an abruptly abandoned breakfast table. The cups and plates were left in varying states: a dirty knife, crumbs on the table, eggshells, and a half emptied bottle of milk. Flies and birds were doing the cleaning up. This still life illustration produced a certain gut feeling in me; provoking me to fabricate my own narratives.

In my early teens I saved amber stains, randomly left by wet teabags on pieces of newspaper (produced by my parents). The teabags itself would become light green over time, since I conveniently let them sit in a moist area. The amount of water, the temperature, brewing time, the brand and sort of tea, the surface underneath the newspaper… It all made a difference in what kind of tea stain it would leave.


Physical structures become remnants of their original form, eventually nothing remains. To me the constant altering shapes of nature are a vast and humble reminder of the fleeting transitions in life. I use photography to deal with the uncontrollable. It’s a way of escaping into a personal parallel universe, seeking mystic doorways or concealed getaways. Getting lost for a while…

M A R D O E   P A I N T E R


1996-1998. Master of Fine Arts. Ohio State University, Department of Art, Columbus Ohio, USA.      

1992-1996. Bachelor of Fine Arts. Interdisciplinary: Academy Minerva, Groningen, The Netherlands.


Member of Professional Dutch Photographers Association GKf (www.dupho.nl/platforms/gkf)

Member of Amsterdam based Professional Artist Association ARTI ET AMICITIAE (www.arti.nl)


In Mardoe’s visual work I see a cool and collected observer or researcher of the specimens.’ Todd Slaughter, Professor Department of Art, Ohio State University


EXHIBITIONS  2009-2021:


2020 - Arti et Amicitiae. SALON 2020/21. Rokin, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

2020 - Museum De Wieger. Part of a Retrospective Collection of the van de Haterd family, in Deurne, The Netherlands.

2020 - Museum Rijswijk Paper Biennial, Rijswijk, The Netherlands.

2020 - Arti et Amicitiae. SALON 2020. Rokin, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

2019 - Arti et Amicitiae. SALON 2019. Rokin, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

2019 - Arti et Amicitiae. Art & Society. Rokin, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

2019 - Museum de Fundatie. Zomerexpo ‘EUROPA’, The Netherlands.

2019 - Arti et Amicitiae. Salon Arti. Rokin, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

2018 - Galerie Fotostad, Amersfoort (foto Biënnale), The Netherlands..

2018 - Arti et Amicitiae. Salon Arti. Rokin, Amsterdam, The Netherlands..

2018 - Arti et Amicitiae. Salon Arti. Rokin, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.. 

2017 - Arti et Amicitiae. Salon Arti. Rokin, Amsterdam, The Netherlands..

2016 - Arti et Amicitiae. Salon Arti. Rokin, Amsterdam, The Netherlands..

2016 - Aegtenkapel. Amersfoort (Photo Biënnial), The Netherlands..

2015 - Gemeentemuseum Den Haag. Zomerexpo ‘WOEST’.  

2015 - Arti et Amicitiae. Salon Arti 175 jaar. Rokin, Amsterdam.  

2014 - Gemeentemuseum Den Haag. Zomerexpo ‘LICHT’, The Netherlands..  

2014 - Arti et Amicitiae. Salon. Rokin, Amsterdam, The Netherlands..   

2013 - Gemeentemuseum Den Haag. Zomerexpo ‘AARDE’, The Netherlands..  

2013 - Arti et Amicitiae. Salon 2012. Rokin, Amsterdam, The Netherlands..  

2012 - Gemeentemuseum Den Haag. Zomerexpo ‘LIEFDE’.  

2012 - Arti et Amicitiae. Group Show. Rokin, Amsterdam, The Netherlands..  

2012 - Stads Galerij. Trio exhibition with, Astrid Hermes & Ilse Leenders. Amersfoort (GRID Biënnial), The Netherlands.  

2012 - Aegtenkapel. Amersfoort (GRID Biënnial), The Netherlands..  

2012 - ‘Amuse’ Collective Memories Het Gasthuys (Solo) Preview GRID Biënnial, Amersfoort, The Netherlands..  

2012 - Paradiso Amsterdam. Women in Paradise, Paradiso. Femina Illuminata (Projected work) , The Netherlands..              

2012 - Arti et Amicitiae. Salon 2012. Rokin, Amsterdam, The Netherlands..  

2011 - Arti et Amicitiae. Salon 2011. Rokin, Amsterdam, The Netherlands..  

2011 - Gemeentemuseum Den Haag. Zomerexpo ‘ANONIEM GEKOZEN’, The Netherlands..  

2011 - ‘Dutch Delight’ New York Photo Festival. NewYork City. U.S.A.  

2010-2011 - Arti et Amicitiae. Salon 2010. Rokin, Amsterdam, The Netherlands..  

2009 - Arti et Amicitiae. Salon 2009. Rokin, Amsterdam, The Netherlands..  

2009 - Flehite Museum. Amersfoort. Exhibition ‘Zonen en Dochters van Amersfoort’. Works purchased by Gemeente Amersfoort & Museum Flehite, Amersfoort, The Netherlands..                                          

2009 - Arti et Amicitiae. New Member Exhibition. Rokin, Amsterdam, The Netherlands..