Painters 2017

Marjolein Menke

Marjolein Menke“I fell in love with drawing and painting when I was at kindergarten. I asked my mother if there was a school where you only learn to draw and it was a revelation when she said yes, it’s called art school.” Marjolein says when asked when she decided to pursue her love of art. Originally trained as a sculptor, she turned to painting for practical reasons. “Working in stone is backbreaking work and transporting sculptures is even harder. Travelling with just an easel and paints seemed much more sensible.”

Marjolein has wanted to participate in the Lamu Painters Festival from the moment she first heard about it. “It is everything and more than I ever thought it would be – in fact it is a thousand times better and it makes me want to cry with happiness. I am so grateful to have been invited.” We are chatting outside the Ali Lamu Shop as Marjolein paints the view of the alleyway under the curious gaze of two little boys, still dressed in kanzus from Madrassa school. The ubiquitous donkeys nibble at one another’s flanks and passersby stop to inspect the painting’s progress. The artists seem to have become a natural part of the daily scenery. “I find the process of painting ‘plein air’ meditative and therefore very attractive. I like the directness which I think also stems from being a sculptor.” Standing back to assess her work, she mentions that she is primarily a portrait painter but likes a challenge, such as painting the subtleties of the ever-changing Lamu light. She explains how it radically alters the essence of a subject’s original attraction.

She loves the fact that she seems to have found a natural rhythm and routine to her time in Lamu. A few days later I find her painting in Shela’s sandy square. She is patiently explaining to a rabble of cheeky children the reasons why they cannot have her paint palette. Whilst she enjoys their inquisitiveness, she honestly admits that she has found some of her experience a bit of a culture shock.

On our group visit to Anidan orphanage, an animated Marjolein was in her element as she captured the likenesses of the children who offered to sit for her. Her resulting rapid oil sketches were fresh and exuded vitality.

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