May 20, 2022

Gruss aus Wien

Looking together at the Little Red Riding Hood, photo by Klaus Rink

Giving my talk at the Weltmuseum, photo by Klaus Rink

On the 3th of May I was welcomed in Vienna in Austria to give a talk on my research project 'Re-telling the history of the (Indo-)European on Batik' and to see the Batik collection kept at the Weltmuseum. It is such an honour to be invited, especially by textile friends as Klaus Rink and Jani Kuhnt.
Since I am preparing my next visit for a talk, I wanted to make first a post on my adventures in Vienna. As always I left with more then I came. I was so inspired, surprised and felt really spoiled. It was my first time traveling abroad since the pandemic. The train ride through the changing landscape from flatland, to hills with yellow field, to snow covered mountains in the distance was wonderful to experience.
I was lucky I had Klaus Rink to guide me around and picking me up at the station. The next morning we met at the Weltmuseum. My talk was in the evening, but first we got to dive into the collection.

Julia Zeindl, Reinhard Blumauer, Klaus Rink and Barbara Pönighaus-Matuella

I made a selection before I went. Everyone at the museum was really busy preparing for a new exhibition that would be build up te next day, still there was time made for me to see the Batiks I requested. Most Batiks they have, they told me, would be on display. In 2015 curator Jani Kuhnt made a selection from the collection to create a huge display in the museum. The display has been up since 2017. Still there were many beauties for me to look at.
I was welcomed together with Klaus at the textile conservation department by Reinhard Blumauer, Barbara Pönighaus-Matuella and Julia Zeindl. Conservator Barbara had suggested I grouped the Batiks in a favourite, group A, and less favourite, group B, and we would just see how far we got.

Being in a depot outside of the Netherlands, it was interesting to see how the Batiks were handled, or not just handled, also kept. In the Netherlands the Batiks are kept preferable on roles, multiple batiks, diveded with acid free paper. If they cannot be kept on roles, because it takes a lot of space, they are kept in boxes, again acid free, folded with acid free paper between each batik. 
In the Weltmuseum most Batiks are kept in boxes too, but they do not fold, not exactly, the batiks are kept loosely, roled in a way, so no new creases are made. This methode is time-consuming, to get the batiks out almost all items need to get out of the box. But a big plus is that the batiks are nice and flat. Another trick I saw, is that in the box, covering all the Batiks, is a big cloth of unbleached cotton. Barbara explained it is to keep the Batiks from shifting in the box, but it is also a good way of spotting any unwelcome guests. Bugs (or mold, help!) can be easily spotted on the white cotton.



As mentioned before I made a selection, based on limited info and small parcel pictures. The result did not disappointed at all. I am just sharing some photos me & Klaus took. I hope I can address some of pieces I saw in later writings, so for know just some eye-candy.
I was very happy to see a Little Red Riding Hood batik up-close again. This one is signed 'N(on)y(a) Oiy King Liem, Kedoeng Woeni 5'. The piece was donated by the same collector as who donated 3 beautiful and fascinating batiks signed 'Oei Khing Liem'. While the name/batikworkshop Oei Khing Liem is well-known, I wander if the Little Red Riding Hood is signed wrongly, on purpose, to pass for being one by Oei Khing Liem. 
Whatever the explanation wil turn out to be for the signature, the piece itself is stunning, odd, yet great. It is a Kain Panjang, so has no Kepala. The edges are decorated with a bright, probably synthetic red that seemed to be added at the very end. Little Red Riding Hood is recognisable from her predecessor on Batik with a decorated skirt/apron in dark blue and licht blue and a red cap. Her face is added by pen it seems, with sometimes missing pupils. The wolf is transformed into a guard lion, something you see this in later versions. The more the makers got removed from the original illustration, the more the wolf got replaced by something local, something the pembatiks would know, in this case a Chinese style guard lion. The empty tree is decorated with flowers, because an empty tree is just wrong in the tropics {except Teak who can loose its leaves in draught}.
The fusion between East & West is made even more clear by the filling motif, the isen-isen. It is made in a delicate, precise Sogan. The blue was dyed first on this Batik, and was overdyed in brown, creating a dark blue in the process. Not a typical colour for the Northcoast, and not a usual first step. The isen-isen itself is 'Tikar', or bamboo mat, the ones used often in houses for the wall. This is a very classic Javanese motif. Commonly Little Red Riding Hood is placed on a blanc background. 
So a great piece of which over time I hope to learn more.


The Weltmuseum collection doesn't only hold great full size cloths, it also has smaller pieces, parts of sarongs and very damaged ones. It is great to see these pieces are kept with as much care as the more perfect ones. It was also refreshing to hear displaying damaged pieces is not seen as something impossible. Where Batiks in the Netherlands are hardly on display and only perfect conditioned ones make it to the public eyes, Barbara said she sees it as her job as a conservator to make every display possible. 
The Batiks are labelled with a small cord with a number. If older labels or stickers are on the textiles, they are kept on the textile too. In the museum the labels return too. Where in the Netherlands any sign of a label, whether it is by the museum or from previous owners or of historical interest, they are hidden from the public view. In Weltmuseum the labels are as much on display as the objects. I think it is great that they show this side of the objects too, their history being part of an collection.



Label on textile in the Weltmuseum

Another signed pieces that left an impression was this one signed with simply 'Marjam'. Since I posted this Batik in my insta stories too, another 'Marjam' in the same colours and with the same elongated beaked bird came on my path. Maybe more 'Marjam' Batiks are out there, who knows, will be looking out for them. This one is made in Cap and Tulis, so a 'Kombinasi'. The purple and blue colours get really fashionable in Batik around 1920-1930's. It is actually one of my favourite colourcombinations and I have many new Batiks from Lasem like this.

Batik signed 'Marjam'


The last piece I share here came actually from the Netherlands. It was in the former Museum Nusantara collection. It wasn't on the list I got from the Weltmuseum, but I knew from the Nusantara collection site it ended up here. This fragile, very damaged beauty is a great piece of more modern Batik history. Signed by 'Gan Tji­oe Liam' from Pekalongan, of the Gan Family, of whom I was recently with a descendent in a talk, Ibu Indrawati Gondowinoto. 


After many Batiks and a really great shared lunchbreak, we also headed together to the batik filled room in the Weltmuseum. In 2015 Jani Kuhnt did an deep dive into the batikcollection of the Weltmuseum and invited my batikmentor, batikexpert Pak William Kwam & Museum Tekstil Jakarta textile conservator Mas Benny Gratha to examine all the batiks. The selection and info are on display in a big collage since 2017. 
The room is really dark, which it ahs to be to preserve the batiks and they are layered over eachother, so  it is not the best way to view them. I got to see them with a flashlight, which was fun and also very helpful. I added here below two photos of the same Batik. This Sogan coloured sarong is the oldest in the collection, as in the oldest to enter the collection. It was apparently bought during an expedition to Indonesia and bought back from Java in 1860. The original label is attached. With the flashlight I got to see beautiful dark blue tumpals and a fine, crackle brown coloured pattern. But vistors see what you see on the first photo. The display is far from perfect, but it is currently one of the bigger displays of Batiks in any European museum as far as I know. 



In the room with the Batiks was also a huge painting by Raden Saleh. Impressive to see, although a littel dark to see well. The painting from around 1870 is explained to be showing colonial rule, the museum says perhaps the British and the Dutch as the tigers, attacking the Javanese man and each other.
I also got to see the exhibition 'Silk Roads' that had it last day that day. Filled with batiks, I had little room to see more, but I hope I can return in the not so far away future to explore the Weltmuseum further.

'Two tigers fight over a dead Javanese' by Raden Saleh

Relief tiles, Kashan, c. 1308 at 'Silk Roads'

Ikats from Uzbekistan  at 'Silk Roads'

New ikats from Uzbekistan  at 'Silk Roads', design by Dilyara Kaipova

Teapots at 'Silk Roads'

Day 2 in Wien

I only been to Vienna once before. It was there when I was 15 or 16 years old on our way for our exchange in Budapest in Hungary. We were there for maybe an hour, took a photo in front of the palace and drove through the city. I remember seeing this golden roof, it got imprinted in my mind. I had no wishes or pre-made plans what I wanted to see thsi time, but I knew I had to see this building again. Before I went I looked it up and turned out the building I saw is the Wienner Secession

- The Vienna Secession (German: Wiener Secession; also known as the Union of Austrian Artists, or Vereinigung Bildender Künstler Österreichs) is an art movement, closely related to Art Nouveau, that was formed in 1897 by a group of Austrian painters, graphic artists, sculptors and architects, including Josef Hoffman, Koloman Moser, Otto Wagner and Gustav Klimt. They resigned from the Association of Austrian Artists in protest against its support for more traditional artistic styles. Their most influential architectural work was the Secession Building designed by Joseph Maria Olbrich as a venue for expositions of the group. Their official magazine was called Ver Sacrum (Sacred Spring, in Latin), which published highly stylised and influential works of graphic art. In 1905 the group itself split, when some of the most prominent members, including Klimt, Wagner, and Hoffmann, resigned in a dispute over priorities, but it continued to function, and still functions today,[when?] from its headquarters in the Secession Building. In its current[when?] form, the Secession exhibition gallery is independently led and managed by artists.
    - Wikipedia

When I was young(er), I was pretty obsessed with Klimt's work, the movbement he was part of and it sparked my wish to study Art. At the Art Academy Klimt was not done, the whole of Art Nouveau actually nor any other thing I liked for that matter. I couldn't understand why Klimt was seen as bad, or I think they preferred calling it "decorative Art", so kept my appreciation for his Art and that of his peers to myself mostly.
That so many years later I am back at this building, a place where today Art is still celebrated, after seeing & sharing about Batiks, doing my own thing, finally, felt like a full circle kind of moment. 



Klaus was my guide for the day, thank you so much, and he had a surprise for me in store. He told me that about puppets with batiks on at the Theatermuseum I could see. When we arrived, the museum was closed that day, but we were welcomed by Angela Sixt, Curator and restorator at the Theatermuseum. The building itself is already stunning and following Klaus and Angela I had no idea what we were going to look at until we entered the room dedicated to puppeteer Richard Teschner:

Richard Teschner, (born March 22, 1879, Carlsbad, Bohemia, Austria-Hungary—died July 4, 1948, Vienna, Austria), puppeteer who developed the artistic potentialities of the Javanese rod puppet for western puppet theatre.
Teschner studied art in Prague and was already an accomplished puppeteer and stage designer when, in 1906, he established his own marionette company in Prague. Five years later, while travelling in the Netherlands, he became interested in the rod-puppet figures brought by Dutch explorers from Java. Returning to Vienna, he opened a small rod-puppet theatre called Figuren Spiegel (Figure Mirror). Teschner variations on the Javanese figure resulted in such figures as the woman whose chalk-white face changes into a skull and the gorilla whose lower and upper lips retract to bare fangs. The puppets were controlled by a central rod and had a network of internal strings to manipulate hand and leg movements, bending to the front or back, and sensitive facial expressions.

Starring at the puppets Teschner made, I was just amazed. He made the puppets based on the Wayang Golek. We had two in our staircase growing-up so I know them very well up-close. But Teschner not just based it on, he altered them to fit his needs. He added legs, which Wayang Golek never have. Made the head movable and added decorations that were local, like a headdress based on (Russian?) pianted eggs and the batik was replaced by a textile by Wiener Werkstätte.


I got better why I was here. We moved to a display, a small golden stage showing two figures insight. Angela said, "this is the story of Mata Hari". On which I replied "You mean My, our Dutch Mata Hari?"

Margaretha Geertruida Zelle-MacLeod (7 August 1876 – 15 October 1917), better known by the stage name Mata Hari, was a Dutch exotic dancer and courtesan who was convicted of being a spy for Germany during World War I. She was executed by firing squad in France. 
At 18, Margaretha answered an advertisement in a Dutch newspaper placed by Dutch Colonial Army Captain Rudolf MacLeod (1856–1928), who was living in what was then the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) and was looking for a wife. Zelle married MacLeod in Amsterdam on 11 July 1895. The marriage enabled Zelle to move into the Dutch upper class and placed her finances on a sound footing(...) In 1903, Zelle moved to Paris, where she performed as a circus horse rider using the name Lady MacLeod, much to the disapproval of the Dutch MacLeods. Struggling to earn a living, she also posed as an artist's model. By 1904, Mata Hari began to rise to prominence as an exotic dancer. She was a contemporary of dancers Isadora Duncan and Ruth St. Denis, leaders in the early modern dance movement, which around the turn of the 20th century looked to Asia and Egypt for artistic inspiration. Gabriel Astruc became her personal booking agent.
-Wikipedia

Turned out Teschner saw Mata Hari perform, later read the biography about her and made a piece about it. A very grown-up story and puppeteering was not for kids at all as Angela explained. In Vienna it was used as protest, as a way of mocking or addressing actions in politics. To discredit the puppeteers, it is thought people started saying it was for Kids. Now we think of puppeteering as a kid-focussed, kid-friendly entertainment, but it was actually a way of sharing criticism among adults.


Back to Mata Hari. We entered the room were the theater, his theater the Figuren Spiegel is. In display cabinets are his puppets next to the ones that started his fascination, the original Wayang Golek he bought in The Hague in The Netherlands. Both the old ones as his made ones are all so great. I loved all the Wiener Werkstätte fabrics and made a mental note I had to dive into this further, didn't they make Batik too...?



Angela noticed my enthusiasm and invited me to see one more thing. I think my head just about didn't exploded. "There is a second Mata Hari"she said. She removed a cloth and two puppets appeared. She took Mata Hari and moved her towards us. Angela Sixt brought Mata Hari to life right before our eyes. The hands moved across her body while her face tilted gently looking as if she was looking around the room. I filmed this encounter and have been sharing it with everyone who crosses my path, including strangers on the train back home.
The second figure is called 'The Prince'. In the story Mata Hari's lover. He reminded me of Raden Saleh in a way, also because of the name. Raden Saleh dressed so over the top while traveling in Europe, men gave him the nickname 'The Prince' while their wives flocked around him. He left many broken hearts apparently. Seeing Mata Hari and her prince make me think of this. Don't know if there is actually an connection, but certainly something I will explore further. 
It is hard to explain how inspiring all of this was, but it really was and I still am fascinated by it. I also wondered why I never heard of it before. 
So I want to thank Klaus again for this, the warm welcome, the tour through Vienna and this amazing visit to Angela's domain on Richard Teschner!

Angela Sixt with Mata Hari & The Prince



 

April 21, 2022

Selamat Ulang Tahun

Celebrating my blogs birthday with loads of Batik related things to read, watch and to enjoy!


Still from Maracosa by Papermoon puppet theater


Today my blog turns 13 years. It been quite the journey! From a travelblog, to a place where I could share my new inspirations and interest on batik to a more research- and update-based blog all about my journey to Batik.
While I promise myself to update my blog regularly, I have so many places where I can share my stories now that they hardly find their way here anymore. Buttt, I can update you, dear reader, of where you can find my stories, what else I have been up to and what other exciting batiks things are out there. 
So Selamat Hari Kartini, Happy birthday to my blog and enjoy!

Batiks at Maison Amsterdam 


Display of Batiks at Maison Amsterdam
Photo by Sabine Bolk


In January a new blogpost for Modemuze went online. In October we visited the exhibition ‘Maison Amsterdam' at De Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam. Because there was Batik on display, I suggested to make a more in-depth blog about it. My post went online during the lockdown when museums still were closed. The exhibition ‘Maison Amsterdam’ was made around the theme ‘Freedom’. In the exhibition Batik is shown with loans by wearers & with a suite by Guave. In my post I highlight the wearers of the Batiks shown and unravel some myths. In the exhibition a photo of one wearer is shown, but another photo of a wearer was send to me when I contacted the family. Both have an interesting story to tell, but for me the most remarkable aspect is how they are displayed. Let’s take look. The one we start with is most prominently in the display. A sarong & kebaya on a mannequin owned by Ida Glasius and on loan from granddaughter Arletta Kaper. First thing I saw was that the batik was displayed upside down, and that it was not a batik, but an early silkscreen printed textile. Batiks displayed upside down (on & offline) are a common mistake here, but there was more…The only photo of a wearer in this display is that of Ida Glasius. Ida wears a similar loose kebaya on the photo and a different Batik, but it is also upside down. Both sarongs have a Garuda pattern; one with only the wings, Lar, and one with the complete bird, Sawat, Garuda motifs are usually worn with the wings pointing up. You can compare it with a horseshoe, upsidedown is bad luck. Whether Ida Glasius wore the Batik upside down as a fashion choice, statement or by mistake, we will probably never find out, but an interesting story never the less.
Since writing my post for Modemuze I have found more photos of wearer with their Batiks upside down and also saw another sarong on display upside down, online, at Kunstmuseum in Den Haag. Something to explore further, perhaps there is a simple explanation for it or it is just a very common mistake...

Photo of Ida
Credit: Arletta Kaper

The other Batik is from Fientje Hanna Hahury Lawalata. Fientje’s sarong is a little more hidden in the display. A pity, since it is the only real one that is signed. It was photographed by Amsterdam Museum. In the kepala is the signature ‘Nj Gan Kaij Bian’, also known as ‘Gan Kay Bian’. In the NMvW collection is similar batik from this batikentrepreneur (TM-5663-1180). The family send me a photo of Fientje wearing the batik posing together with her family. It is very special to have a photo of the wearer. We can date the batik better, since the photo is taken around 1947. Fientje wore sarong kebaya every day, even after migrating to the Netherlands. Her family let me know they found it so special her clothing was being displayed and think Fientje would be very proud.

Display with loans by Norma Hahury and Arletta Kaper
Photo by Sabine Bolk

Sarong signed by Gan Kay Bian
Credit: Amsterdam Museum 

Fientje Hanna Hahury Lawalata with her mother, husband and daughter. 
Credit: Norma Hahury


Batikworkshops



Student takes Batik out of Indigobath at HKU
Photo by Sabine Bolk

After the last lockdown, giving workshops is up and running again. Next to finally returning to De Vrolijkheid for a fun workshop creating Colour-Fans, I have been giving Batikworkshops. First one of the year was a last-minute-short-intro on Batik for Artstudents at the HKU in Utrecht. The students had a week of learning about Blue, dyeing with Indigo, blockprinting, Shibori organised by Craft Council Nederland and I gave Batik. The creations made in the morning were dyed blue synthetic & natural by the students themselves.

Batikworkshop at Cultuurspoorhuis in Middelburg
Photo by Sabine Bolk

Removing the wax
Photo by Liesbeth Labeur


End of last month I had a three day mini-batik-holiday in Middelburg. I gave two days on two locations the workshop and removed all the wax on the third day. We had to reschedule this workshop twice, but very happy it could finally take place, in good company & with such good weather. Thank you Liesbeth Labeur for organising, thanks Pennywafelhuis & Cultuurspoorhuis and thank you to the participants.

Documenting each others Batiks at Lunteren
Photo by Sabine Bolk

Right after returning from Middelburg, I gave an evening workshop at Stichting Ana Upu hosted by Mantelzorgpunt in Lunteren. I gave a talk there in October and they asked me if they could also get a Batikworkshop by me. We had only two Monday evenings, so I adapted it to fit our time-schedule and was amazed what we could create in just 3 hours basically. My oldest participant was 93, although she found it a very difficult technique she still created several small pieces of Batik. I loved that at the end of the second evening everyone was making photos of each other’s work.



Watch online




In January I gave a talk for CIHC on 'An overview of Peranakan Batik in Dutch Museums' and a little visual trip to Lasem. It was great to share how to access the archives and how to find these beauties kept in Dutch depots. I was also honoured to be a speaker between a Batiklegend as Ibu Widianti of Oey Soe Tjoen, Ibu Idrawati sharing her Gan family Batiklegacy and scholar & collector Christoper Ng.

You can watch the talk back on Youtube

Business card for Suze Zijlstra designed by me in front of original design

Two years ago historian Suze Zijlstra asked me if I knew someone to design her business card. She wanted something maybe with batik and referring to her research & upcoming book ‘De Voormoeders’. I sayed I would love to do it. When we had our first lockdown I started designing her card. A year later her card was printed and in September 2021 her book was published. Since up till now Suze did not had many opportunities to hand out the card, I thought it would be nice to share the card, the inspiration & her book in a Batik Consultation video. We talk in depth about one of Suze's ancestors, Tan Kim Njo, and the batiks that she wore. And how those batiks inspired the business card I designed for Suze.

Now online on Youtube

Batik Consultation with Suze Zijlstra, historian and author of the book ‘De Voormoeders’ that was published last year. We talk in depth about one of Suze’s ancestors, Tan Kim Njo, and the batiks that she wore. And how those batiks inspired the business card I designed for Suze.



Newsssss





I am so exciting to share this news here. I have two talks this upcoming May. First one on 3 May, Tuesday evening, at the Weltmuseum in Vienna, Austria. My first talk abroad since the start of the pandemic. I have given talks on international stages these past two years, thank you, but this one will be for a live audience on location! I am so happy I get to share my research of the past couple of years here and dive into the depot during my visit there.

For more info and to register go to www.weltmuseumwien.at



My second talk will be for The Association of Dress Historians Annual New Research Conference 2022 for their New Research in Dress History Conference held offline at National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh and online. My first conference! I feel like a proper researcher now ;)! 
In my talk 'A Batik collection fit for a Lady' I will share my current research in which I focus on the wearer, especially on ladies that were of European descent who dressed in Batik sarongs themselves during colonial times in Indonesia. Extensive collections have been kept in the Netherlands, privately and in museum-collections. These kept batik-collections provide us still with new interesting insides and different angles to share this history. For this presentation I focus on 41 batiks that were donated by Jonkvrouwe Anna Cecile Aurélie Jeanne Clifford, Jonkvrouwe as in damsel. The donation is an unusual wardrobe for a lady that apparently had never been to Indonesia herself. The batiks most likely belonged to her mother, Theodora Adriana Lammers van Toorenburg, who was born in 1852 in the former Dutch East Indies. This collection provides us with interesting insights into what was worn by whom and how the wearer can provide us with provenance that is often overlooked in batik-research.

For more info check dresshistorians.org
For tickets and more on the program see www.eventbrite.co.uk



See-Do-Enjoy



Still from Maracosa by Papermoon puppet theater


'MARACOSA'  by Papermoon Puppet theater
till 10 June 2022
Yogyakarta ID

One of those things I wish to visst myself. The exhibiton 'MARACOSA'  by Papermoon Puppet theater at the moment held Omah Budoyo in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. It runs till 10 June 2022, so if you nearby Ayo! I saw the stunning puppetshow they made online, all about Batik and how the love for it need to be passed on to a younger generation for it to survive. It make me cry out loud, so beautiful and strong. A must-see if you can!

Display of 'Fake Batik', object selection by my at De Lakenhal

Misleiden at De Lakenhal
till 12 June 2022
Leiden NL

Exhibition 'Misleiden' at De Lakenhal in Leiden and the publication with the same title both include 'Fake Batik'. Exhibition runs until 12 June 2022 and the book is now for sale at bookstores & online

Colonial Stories by Amsterdam Museum
till 18 September 2022
Amsterdam NL

The exhibition 'Colonial Stories' at the temporary location, Amstel 51, of Amsterdam Museum including several Batik pieces and even imitation batik. The exhibition runs until 18 September 2022. 

Langs Geborduurde Wegen at Museum Kantfabriek
till 25 september 2022

Exhibition made with the collection of Ien Rappoldt showing the traditional wear and textile traditions, including Batik, from Southwest-China

Kleurstof at Textielmuseum
till 2 October 2022
Tilburg NL

Exhibition 'Kleurstof' at Textielmuseum in Tilburg dives into the world of colour. It includes recreated old recipes (which I tried one of), the routs of colonial trade (which I worked on too) and much more.


January 14, 2022

Selamat tinggal 2021

A little late with my last post of 2021, but since everything goes a little different these past two years, better late than never.

So Goodbye 2021 and Welcome 2022. 

After my last post in October, I worked non-stop, I think my busiest yet, but I am definitely not complaining. I was really happy I had all these amazing projects I could work on and can keep on working on throughout 2022, with wonderful & inspiring people! A very welcome distraction in 2021 and it’s so rewarding to be able to make batik my fulltime job! Only wish for 2022 is a little less fulltime, so it leaves more room for the unexpected and my creativity. 

In this post I am looking back at some of the projects and activities of the past months, ayo & enjoy!

Me & a Batik by Maria Paulina Carp


Storytelling 


‘Little Red Riding Hood’ 
A5 card 
printed on partly recycled paper


‘When I started my journey to Batik in 2009, I wasn’t aware of the rich knowledge that was available in the Netherlands. My first journey brought me to Central Java where I searched for batikmakers to learn more about the technique and meaning behind the motifs. During this journey I was of course confronted with our colonial history, but in a different way than I expected. 
During a visit to the Batikmuseum Danar Hadi in Solo, after looking at rooms filled with dark-brown coloured royal batiks, I was standing in front of a brightcoloured batik with Little Red Riding Hood on it. The guide laughed, saying something like “You will like this one, it is Dutch Batik”.
“Batik Belanda” I learned a few days later, when a friend handed me a book with the same title. These North-coast batiks from Java are filled with fairytales, flowers and even war scenes. 
This was the start of a quest that brought me in museumdepots, to researchers and even descendants of batikmakers. All in the Netherlands. Because here I could find a lot on Batikhistory. Maybe even more is kept here than in Indonesia…’

I made this illustration to go with an article that got published in the magazine BATIK! More about that later in this blogpost. The intro here above is from the article too. 
The last 2,5 years I have been doing research on batiks made between 1840 & 1890 kept in Dutch collections that are described as having an (Indo-)European influence. A journey that brought amazing batiks & findings on my path! I will be working this year on getting more of the results of this research out in different ways while continuing my research. In my follow-up research I will focus more on the wearers and finding out more on batikmakers, as I shared in my previous post ‘Pukul Terus

I had it printed as a thank you card, but it is also for sale. To order the card send an email to at sabine@sabinebolk.nl.


Shishani & Sisterhood



This year we got to perform the ’Shishani & Sisterhood’ show three times. All three were amazing experiences that brought me out of my comfort-zone completely, but into a great group of creative souls. I am so thankful for this, thank you Shishani for bringing us together and letting us create this great show. 
The third show was live streamed from De Melkweg for the SIPA festival. Still can believe I was on stage at PAARD and Melkweg, wow! You can rewatch it here. 





Zine 'The Penguin & The Batik'


Making of the zine
Photo by Michael van Kekem

This last year I have been thinking a lot about my Art practice and how what I do mostly is storytelling. The medium in which I tell the story usually comes after the idea for a story to tell/share. Will I write a lot of articles, there are some stories that need a little more, or better said something different. I was very happy I could explore so many different ways of storytelling this year. Through publications, online talks, many social media post. Through videos on Youtube, on stage, even in batiks. And in my first ever Zine! 
It realised I hadn’t shared it here yet. The Zine was already in the making a longtime, but the final full Riso printed version was ready in March 2021. 
The Zine is on one of those Batik story that I wanted to tell for a long time already & a little Zine in Riso turned out to be the perfect match for this strange tale: ‘The Penguin & The Batik’. 
In 20 pages the story from the moment I discover a penguin on a Batik. A visual story that is not looking to answer questions, but more a way of understanding the quest.
I made the Zine with the great guidance & support of Michael van Kekem at his studio in Rotterdam (NL). I hope to create a new Zine this year!

Zine 'The Penguin & The Batik'
Full Riso print
20 pages 
Only 4 left in stock
Send me an email to order at sabine@sabinebolk.nl


Magazine BATIK!



After we, me, Romée Mulder and Myrthe Groot, hosted the Batik Stand in 2019, the Stichting Tong Tong invited us to collaborate to make Batik the theme for the next TTF. Unfortunately the TTF couldn’t take place in 2020, so we hosted an online Batik Stand instead. 
From beginning of this year till about July I was working, together with Florine Koning & Leslie Boon, on this magazine. Again the TTF couldn’t take place in September, but the idea was to publish the magazine either way. With a lot of things going on behind the scenes, the magazine was published end of November 2021. 
The magazine all about batik has several articles by my hand, interviews with Guave, Batikmaker Miss Nurul & batikscholar Renske Heringa. A lovely illustrated tutorial how to wrap a Batik by Jeroen Krul, great to have made this together. A wonderful step by step Batik DIY by Shuen-Li Spirit. Two of our Online Batik Stand guests return, showing the Batik kept & passed on in their family, Rachel de Vries & Cindy Smits, and we find two more to share their precious heirloom. Spread throughout the magazine are Batik wannahave items by different batikbrands. 

You can order the magazine BATIK! online at Stichting Tong Tong or ask for it at your local bookstore. The magazine is in Dutch.




Story on Fake Batik for Misleiden


Felix Driessen letters to home and samplebook
Kept at Erfgoed Leiden

When I was going through the letters Felix Driessen wrote during his travels in 1878 kept at Erfgoed Leiden, I would never had thought 3 years later I will show them in an exhibition.
The exhibition Misleiden opened right before we entered our latest lockdown, so I haven’t been able to see it myself, but luckily the exhibition is also held online.
Fresco Sam-Sin of Things That Talk who curated the exhibition gathered great misleading objects, all from Leidse organisations, and their stories for this exhibition. When Fresco told me about the exhibition plan for Misleiden we totally agreed that imitation batik, or ‘Fake Batik’, should be definitely included.
I am already working behind the screens with Things That Talk on a zone for their website, Fabric(s) of Leiden, all about the Leidsche Katoenmaatschappij, which we will share online this year. So excited to share! Great stories are being made by students of University Leiden to unravel the history of the Leidsche Katoenmaatschappij, sharing great objects kept in many different locations in the Netherlands. 
The story I made for Misleiden is in a way a preview of that zone. 
Go visit thingsthattalk.net or go to the website of De Lakenhal to read all about fakes in Art & Science including my story of Fake Batik!

Placing the samplebook & letters for the photos
Photo by Erfgoed Leiden

Photographer Cees de Jonge makes photos 
for the online Misleiden exhibition
at Erfgoed Leiden


Talks


Next to writing, I was invited to give several talks. Mostly online, but also my first two talks for public again. It was in the short window it was allowed and my upcoming talks will be behind my computer again.
You can watch two talks back online. One for Jakarta Fashionweek. I am still so honoured I could share about Batik during such an event! Never thought I would be part of something like this. Especially after being at the JFW myself in 2016.
The other talk was for Batik Sayang in which I share more on my research.



Future of Batik




“Batik is a masterpiece, a national treasure, an identity. Sadly, it is suffering a slow death. It's no easy task to keep it alive amid changing times and taste. Some, understandably, gave up halfway, daunted by the challenge. So how do we make this traditional art appealing to the younger generation? To produce and to wear. Can we truly succeed in merging traditional values with modern lifestyle?”

Fashion Conversation hosted by JakartaFashionWeek in collab with Erasmushuis Jakarta. Featuring moi, Ibu Sita, Mas Direz of Bluesville and host Tony Sugriata of aNERDgallery. Video statements by pembatiks Ibu Ramini of KUB Srikandi, Miss Nurul, Miss Dewi and Ibu Widianti Widjaja of Oey Soe Tjoen.

What are your thought on this topic? And how do you think we can take Batik with us to the future? Let me know in the comments!



Talk 'Re-telling the history of the (Indo-)European influence '



This online talk was given for the Facebook group ‘Batik Sayang’ to share my researchproject ‘Re-telling the history of the (Indo-)European influence on Batik between 1840 and 1890’. 


Collecting Stories



In my previous post ‘Pukul Terus’, I already shared a little on stories I would like to explore further and on histories that need telling.
A story that is part of this and has been part of my re-telling journey for a long time now, is the story about Maria Paulina Carp. In many ways my research on Indo-European influenced batiks started with this lady. 
For my last visit of the Tropenmuseum depot of 2021, I was joined by the direct descendent of Maria Paulina Rapilla-Carp (1860-1916).
I saw Maria Carp's batiks in 2011, and they marked a turning point in my ‘journey to Batik',  read all about it in my previous posts from 2011 ‘Made by Carp’ & ‘Give honor to whom it’s due’.
History, or better Herstory, became the focus point, I wanted to learn all about the makers, both current and historical ones {and the wearers & collectors} of Batik.
In September 2021 I finally met up again with Rob, great grandson of Maria Carp, who made the batiks shown in this post. I met Rob’s mother in 2010 and she told me her grandmother the batikmaker. To surprise Rob’s mother during a talk I was plannend to give, I made an appointment to photograph the 4 Batiks she donated and hadn’t seen since. 
I stayed in contact with Rob through the years. Since Rob hadn’t seen the Batiks for a long time, I arranged we could see the together with some Batiks by her fellow batikentrepreneurs. I made a selection to compare; all signed, from the same time and all from Pekalongan. The selection made from pretty bad quality photos turned out great. 
This was in many ways a full circle moment. It was great to share the experience of looking at beautiful batiks together, especially with such special guests. I feel so lucky Maria Carp came on my path & guided me through my ‘journey to Batik’!




After 2,5 years as a Research Associate at RCMC researching the NMvW collection this moment in November marked a symbolic ending and at the same time marked a new beginning. 
I am finishing up my current research and this year I hope to continue with the story of Maria Carp, and Mary Herrmann, and others.

Maju terus, thank you for keep on following my stories and I promise to keep on sharing them!