Painters 2017

Machtelt Ijdo

Having been warned about the dangers of visiting Africa, Machtelt was initially anxious about her trip to Lamu. Any fears soon dissipated with the warm welcome and open friendliness of the locals. She found she settled straight in to the simple Island lifestyle, “It was hot, but I loved how we only travelled by foot or by boat… walking barefoot in the sand… in a way it felt like coming home.”

Savouring the warm Lamu light, Machelt was astounded by the wealth of subject matter to choose from. Normally focused on composition, perpective and her palette, she found herself drawn to painting the Lamu faces. She enjoyed capturing “their personalities, open expressions and the feeling of living in the here and now.” In particular the vivacious village children were a source of inspiration. In spite of the cultural and linguistic differences, she was touched by the “connection they made with her.”

Brought in the Netherlands, Machtelt lives by in the sea in Noorhout. Despite her artistic talents as a child, her father dissuaded her from career in art. She instead studied for a degree in agriculture. She has managed to meld her agricultural background with her art through her love of painting small farms.

A sense of her farming sensibilities shines through the paintings she made on Maweni. She was struck by the rust-red hue of the sandy soil and the tough manual labour endured by the people. Influenced by the spontaneity of the Dutch artist, Hans Baayens, she strives to simplify her work to an almost abstract style.

Like many of the other artists, her stay on Lamu was enriched by her immersion in an artistic community. Machtelt says she gleaned so much from watching the other painters work and the sharing of techniques. The Lamu Painters Festival exceeded all her expectations. As well as being so well-looked after and the kindness shown to her, “It was much more than just an experience, I found myself humbled by the religion, race and tolerance.”

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