Herveline Martau, (b. 1980), hails from the Kastom island of Malekula. The second largest island in the Vanuatu archipelago, Malekula is situated 240 km north of the Efate mainland. Like its northern counterparts, Pentecost and Ambrym, Malekula is home to some of Vanuatu’s most exquisite Kastom artforms, including smythical dance, finely detailed headdresses, and clay Puppetry. Many of these artforms are still used in traditional Kastom ceremony. As a child, these Kastoms surrounded Herveline’s daily life. Her home island is also internationally renowned for the art of Sandroing, a form of visual linguistic communication in which the artist scribes motifs in the sand using the index finger. A key feature of Sandroing, is that the motifs are drawn in a single attempt, without the finger leaving the sand. It is still practiced, widely today, in the northern islands of Vanuatu. This given, Herveline grew up surrounded by Kastom Sandroing, learning it from family members and, as children do, practising their designs with friends. Sandroing remains an underlying influence to her work. In Herveline’s print, Le Pigeon de Mataso, the linear style of Sandroing motifs are emulated. A defining feature of her work is the harmonious relationship between traditional Kastom motifs and the iconography of Sandroing, in contrast to the contemporary introduction of written text (often singular words and names) and a bright, bold, palette. Since 1998, she has lived in Port Vila where she met Jack Martau from Mataso, her husband. They now have a young daughter, Davina, who was born in 2003.
In her free time, Herveline enjoys playing volleyball and is active Baptist church member where she teaches religious songs, plays guitar, and acts in local community based theatre productions. Today she continues to develop seemingly effortlessly.