Discovering Penelope Deltour

We find Penelope in an empty, shared studio space in Ghent, slowly finding her way back to the daily life after an amazing roadtrip in Iceland, so she tells us. Feeling a bit homesick for the open road and the vast Icelandic landscapes she takes us with her on a journey of her life, work and quest for spotting wild humpback whales.

Styling and production by Gijs Grondelaers
Photography and words by Wouter Struyf
Thanks for having us in your creative bubble Penelope. Many might know your work as an artist already but who Is Penelope Deltour?

I wasn’t expecting these kind of trick questions. (laughs) Give me a second to let this simmer.
Currently, my work is unveiling facets of my identity that were previously unexplored. This marks a unique experience for me as I've always closely associated my sense of self with my work.

I think explorer might be right, for the moment. I find myself at a juncture in life where I have the opportunity to rediscover both my identity as an individual and as an artist. To me, this journey of self-exploration feels similar to being "on the road." It's a state of being I cherish, where the intersection of desire and appreciation creates a wonderful sense of fulfilment.
When we first spoke about portraying you, first thing that popped up in my head were images of whales. Are these animals disappearing from your life with the quest of discovering the new parts within yourself?
I am certain whales will always stay in my life in some kind of way, as they have been a consistent guide throughout my creative life.
 In a challenging period of my school career, I noticed I got peace of mind when I was drawing whales. This unexpected pursuit was sparked by an article I fell upon, recounting a tale of a boy riding a whale—a n idea that captivated my imagination. At the time, the whale still sported wheels and reins in my drawings, adding a playful touch. These initial sketches eventually evolved into a captivating journey that unfolded within the belly of the whale, where an entire world seemed to flourish.
The peculiar shapes, the immense power, and the inherent tranquility exuded by these majestic creatures held my fascination. The whale became a mystical companion, providing me with comfort and a sanctuary where I could quietly seek my inner strength without distractions. As time passed, it became evident that the symbolism associated with whales in certain cultures, representing a navigator through the deep and dark, resonated deeply with what the whale signified for me during that year.
The whale became my muse, a metaphor for the reassurance that "everything will be alright," a symbol of peace, strength, and perhaps even a representation of taking a "Leap of Faith" into the unknown. The whale, in its own way, presented me the courage to persist and persevere through challenges.
2022 has been a year of profound transformation for me. I embraced the art of letting go, bid farewell to my role as an illustrator, and experienced an unparalleled sense of liberation when crafting my images and landscapes. Interestingly, during my last holiday, a roadtrip through Iceland, I had the privilege of encountering these magnificent animals not once, but three times.
It felt as if the universe had orchestrated a full-circle moment, following a long and at times challenging quest—for both self-discovery and artistic identity. Witnessing these jawdropping animals for the very first time served as an affirmation that I am precisely where I'm meant to be. It was like a cosmic pat on the back, encouraging me to face whatever lies ahead with unwavering determination.
Where do you find your inspiration for your work nowadays?
It's inspiring to work alongside a diverse group of creatives at the studio. We often exchange feedback and different viewpoints, pushing each other to improve but my primary source of inspiration I find outside in nature.
The combination of dunes and the sea, as well as the interconnectedness of all aspects of nature, has consistently fueled my creativity. Before I discovered the serenity of nature, I found solace and inspiration in the presence of whales.
Both nature and whales hold a mysterious and emotional quality that I can't fully grasp but deeply appreciate. This sense of melancholy carries a profound beauty and romanticism, which I value, even though many see it negatively.
My creative journey initially began as a way to escape the overwhelming information of daily life. However, the beauty of nature enhances my awareness of my own vulnerability and captivates me with its primal power and vibrant colors.
Nature transports me to a timeless state where time becomes relative, a feeling I aim to convey in my art. The dunes, a place of cherished childhood memories, serve as the starting point for my creative journey, driven partly by nostalgia.
You radiate peace of mind and tranquility, like you ’re happy in the place where you are at right now. Taking that into account, where do you see yourself in five years?
I would love to give myself more time in nature and a bit more travelling, but for the first time, I truly love the place that I am at the moment and can see myself continuing what I'm doing right now. I am aware though that my primary stumbling block has been my search for perfectionism and the tendency to let my mind overanalyze and guide my path, which often leads to impatience with myself.
The significant challenge I face is to cultivate a greater presence in the present moment and cultivate gratitude for every step, regardless of its size, on my journey. "Get out of your head," someone once advised me, "trust your instincts, and allow things to flow." This has turned out to be the most valuable counsel I've ever received, although it took me a considerable amount of time to fully grasp its meaning—and it remains an ongoing process.
So, I've learned to embrace the idea of trusting the process, understanding that it's a continuous action, and that progress, no matter how small or significant, is something to be celebrated and appreciated.
Thanks for giving us a look into your personal and artistic life. Any Last words you wish to add?
I am very grateful for the leap I took last year, and for the people who pushed me to get to this point in my life. I am aware though that there could be more bumps in the road ahead, but these usually have the best views. I can recommend anyone who is facing a life-changing decision: jump and trust your guts.
And uh…
Can I keep the outfits? (laughs)
Find more of Penelope on her website or instagram
Find the looks here.