Painters 2013

Karin Brouwer

Karin Brouwer prefers painting subjects familiar to her and that’s one of the reasons why she repeatedly turned down the invitation to participate in the Lamu Painters Festival. Lamu was a bit too far and too foreign for her.  “Herbert Menzer [the organiser of the festival] asked me twice to come to Lamu and I said ‘no,’” she remembers, smiling at herself. Finally, “the third time, I said ‘yes’”.  And she’s glad she did. “Lamu is amazing,” she tells me. Her painting experience at the festival has made her ‘stretch’, she says, and moved her outside of her comfort zone—not a bad thing for artists.

In Matondoni, I watched as Karin finished a portrait of a woman busy with domestic chores in front of her home. Karin explained that she liked the intimate space of the home, where neighbour women gather to chat and children to play.  “I’m lucky,” Karin remarks, “She has been busy washing clothes for 2 hours so it has given me the opportunity to paint her.” Even as Karin folds her easel and sits to relax in the shade away from the mid-day sun, her host continues with her chores and chatting with other women. Her husband arrives and slides off his donkey in front of our resting place. He removes a sharp knife from his waist band and begins to cut into the hard surface of a green coconut or madafu, as it is known locally. Slicing off the top, he hands each of us one—a local refreshment from the tree.  Karin is humbled by the offer—such grace from her hosts who have little beyond their daily sustenance. 

Karin Brouwer was born in 1964 in the Netherlands. She was trained as a visualizer and illustrator and she worked for many years as a make-up artist for television. She began painting as a hobby almost 20 years ago to help her relax from the intense world of TV production. Her participation in the Lamu Painters Festival has opened new vistas for her. Now, she wants to travel more often and paint in new places.