“What I love about printmaking is the concept of multiple originals. There’s something magic about it, like making a stamp, 1–2–3. You have them all sitting in a row, and I enjoy that sense of childlike delight in the multiples.”
Machteld Hali’s passion for printmaking can trace its origins back to potato printing as a child in Holland. Her love for the process has taken her on a journey of discovery where she combines her creativity with a high level of technical skill.
Hali has done lino printing and etching on zinc plates, but it is the collograph process for which she has become well known on the South Coast.
In her work with collographs, ‘found’ objects are incorporated into the plate, adding a rich textural dimension. Another element of the collograph process is the bright and vibrant colour achieved.
“I love colour and I really love hanging joy on the wall … So someone can feel a moment of happiness.”
Hali says she can achieve seven or eight colours if she works at it. The first print can often take up to a day to compose and draw, about half a day to cut and half a day to print. Inking the plate in itself is a major element of the process.
The cardboard plate is good for 10-15 prints. Plates are generally made of matte board but ordinary cardboard can be used. Found objects she’s used include flowers cut from lace, onion bag, dried plants from the garden. She uses a contrast of organic shapes with architectural and geometric lines. This was a feature of the recent “Doors and Windows” exhibition where each print created a sense of looking out though buildings to multiple layers. It was at this exhibition that someone wanted to buy the actual plate. Hali says she’ll possibly consider this idea in a few years but for the moment she’ll hold on to her precious blueprints.
Born in Holland, at the age of three she moved with her parents to Indonesia. She says there are three parts to her identity, the Dutch, Indonesian and Australian.
“The Indonesian part is quite a strong one which can be seen in some of my latest works inspired by Bali. I’ve recently reclaimed that part of me. I realised with the work I was doing, that these images were very much part of my iconography and the way I see the world – the lushness, the tropical theme. I love tropical plants with big leaves. I love the lush, colourful, wet – the foetid quality you get in a place like Bali.”
Of the Dutch heritage, Hali says when she arrived with her parents as migrants, it was expected that the native culture would be dumped.
“They went in for assimiliation and I lost the native culture which was terrible. So it has taken me much longer to reclaim that and go back and learn the language. I was enmeshed in Dutch cultue for a while, it’s a very important part of me combined with the Indonesian, so I’m really multicultural.”
She says the Dutch heritage does influence her work. She strongly identifies with Rembrandt who was the etcher of all time. When she returned to Amsterdam, she found herself walking the cobbled streets where she spontaneously began to cry. She had the feeling at that moment that she’d arrived home.
“That was quite remarkable as I hadn’t been back. My parents didn’t really enforce Dutch culture after we came here.. The moment we came it was ‘forget all that, you have to start fresh’.