Back in the illustrious days of the ancient Greeks, vase painters would illustrate pots and jugs with popular mythological stories that everyone knew and loved. In Saskia Janssen’s recent series Expensive Vases for Children, she does the same thing, but for a 21st century audience. She reimagines ancient Greek vases with the instantly recognisable stories and characters from children’s cartoons. “This series started with a drawing of an old greek vase with Peppa Pig on it,” she tells It’s Nice That. “I was thinking: “How nice is it, if you combine old Greek vases with famous icons for children?””
In the series you’ll find the elegant forms of amphoras doodled over with the smiling face of Thomas the Tank Engine, the self-satisfied grin of Garfield the cat and The Teletubbies’ Tinky Winky giving us a benevolent wave. Reinterpreting these lofty relics of art history, Saskia wanted to experiment with how the “value of the vase changed” when seen through children’s eyes. Interested in exploring what happens when “different periods are combined”, Saskia’s series is a goldmine of that syncretic visual power that occurs when ancient and old, highbrow and lowbrow come crashing together.
We last spoke to Saskia back in 2020 when she discussed her interest in the contrast between “artificiality and authenticity”, her creative path from theatre to illustration and how she uses funny stock photos for inspiration when drawing. In the time that’s passed since we last spoke, Saskia has been getting a lot of joy out of exploring the infinitely intriguing relationship between humans and animals.