Jodie van Mesdag

A Contemporary Allegory


A Contemporary Allegory takes a modern approach on the use of symbolism in historical artworks. During the Renaissance period, art was used as a way of telling stories to those who could not read and write, and objects, food, animals and colours were used as symbols to portray messages about society, human nature and emotional states of mind; themes of love, lust, spite, a loss of innocence, superficiality, the renewal of life, and so on. This series takes these traditional symbols and aims to portray their meaning through the medium of photography. Jodie was particularly interested in some of the lesser-known, sometimes hidden symbols, such as the ostrich egg as a symbol of virginity, and the pomegranate as a symbol of eternal life.

The photographs in the exhibition are paired together in the form of diptychs, encouraging the viewer to explore the relationship between the two images. The diptychs combine portraiture with still life, and form a connection through meaning, shape, colour, texture and sometimes through juxtaposition. The photographer’s love for editorial fashion photography and conceptual portraits greatly inspires her work, and the project was her way of incorporating these influences to capture the various allegorical symbols within a contemporary context.



Jodie van Mesdag is a Hampshire based photographer with interests in fashion photography and portraiture. Her work often focuses on identity, human nature and states of the mind. She has a background in jewellery design and silversmithing, and currently runs a business selling jewellery, homeware and custom illustrations. She will be graduating in 2021 with a Bacherlor’s degree in Photography from University Centre Farnborough.