December 29, 2012


Batiks I spotted in 2012

The days between Christmas and New Year are always filled with looking back and making new plans (and good resolutions). For starters I would like to thank everyone for reading my blog. This year I wrote my 200th blogpost (see blogpost 'Once upon a time'), I received many great Batik Statements (see 'label Batik Statement'), I got to see many great exhibitions and I read (and bought great books) about Batik, temporary art, colonial history and much more.
I didn't stick to a lot of the plans I made last year, they got replaced along the way by better ideas. I'm happy my blog gives me the power and a good excuse to learn more everyday.
Thank you all again, and keep reading in 2013!
Last week I visited Helmond again with my mother to get a closer look on the new collection of Vlisco. We were there in March and really enjoyed looking at all the bright, beautiful fabrics (see blogpost 'Vlisco in Helmond').
Of course we also went to Jansen. And there was a big surprise for me in store. I found out that I own real Vlisco's much longer than I thought.
The pink patterned Vlisco on the picture above caught my eye. I thought: "Don't I know this pattern", and it turns out I know it very well.

I don't know for how long I had these two fabrics hanging on my wall, but till last year I decorated every bedroom with them. One yellow, red with gold, the other a stricking blue with purple and gold. I found them in this small hippie shop. I always went there to buy nice jewelry and fun gifts. One day she had these pieces of fabrics lying in a basket. I think I almost bought them all. She told me it were fake prints from Thailand. I never doubted that explanation.
My mother made two of fabrics so that I could hang them on my wall.
Detail 'Bed rest', 2010

In 2010 I made the painting 'Bed rest'. You can read more about it and see pictures on my site I painted the view from my bed. The red painted ceiling above me and a dress waiting to be worn and my fake printed batik on the walls.
I think the cloth in my painting is only 10 centimeters tall. I remember cursing my brush, sitting with my nose almost against the paper, repeating the pattern, getting to know it better.

Now the fake printed batik turns out to be a real Vlisco, it almost sounds like a fairytale. What a nice surprise to end 2012 with!
My mother gave me this pretty Julius Holland Wax with infinity symbols. It's going to make a lovely dress, or pants or suit...I will let you know in 2013 what it's going to be!

I wish you all a wonderful 2013!

December 23, 2012

It’s not a’s a home

'Paradise' by Eli Content, 2012

Friday me and Emmy Dijkstra went to see the exhibition 'Die avond groeide er een bos in de kamer' in the Wetering Galerie in Amsterdam. It's till 19 januari, try to see it! It's a really great collabaration between Titia Frieling and Gijs Frieling, mother and son.

We really wanted to see this work because of the stricking title: 'That night a forest grew in the room'. Like always synchronicity wasn't far away. Emmy was using a book for a workshop, it started with the same sentence. It turned out that this book inspired the Frieling's to make this exhibition. The same way 'Zomerboek' inspired us. We brought our work into a forest, the Frieling's made a forest inside a gallery.

Another exhibition we had to see, was the exhibition 'The world according to Eli Content' at Galerie Onrust. Emmy's mother saw Eli Content's paper house on TV and immediately saw the strong similarities with our paper hut (see YouTube movie 'Papieren hut'). Unfortunately we couldn't find a date on which we both had time. I had to visit Amsterdam for another exhibition (See blogpost 'Hollandaise at SMBA'), so I combined it and promised Emmy a detailed report!

In the mid-seventies Eli Content (Vevey, Switzerland, 1943) made his debut with extremely severe-looking, minimalistic paintings. At he same time he also made much looser cut outs with Matisse-like ornaments. This freedom he has always granted himself. He cannot and will not deprive himself nor the beholder.
In a letter dated October 12th 2012 he writes: “The world that I want to show is more than just one uniform thing –as is usual in the art world- my world is manifold and is not restricted by just one style." *
'Paradise' by Eli Content, 2012
'Paradise' by Eli Content, 2012

His whole life he has been fascinated by the account of the Creation as described in the Bible Book of Genesis. “Whether this is true or not is unimportant to me. It is true because I think it is beautiful. It tells us about the animals that were there before us, about the trees, plants and the creation of man.” This narration is crucial in the monumental window piece (The Creation of Man – Male and Female, 2012) and the little house (Paradise, 2012), both erected from painted over, fragile old newspapers. In both works he also goes back to one of his older themes, his fascination that the letters in the alphabet can basically contain all knowledge and keep this alive. Together with birds, fishes, plants, trees and human figures the letters of the Hebrew alphabet crowd his installation in Galerie Onrust. He celebrates the freedom to give his art any form he likes, free from a fixed style or any dogmatism in high-spirited paintings, drawings, artists books and installations. A selection of recent works can be seen under the title It’s not a’s a home. Or the world according to Eli Content.*
'Paradise' by Eli Content, 2012
'Paradise' by Eli Content, 2012
'Paradise' by Eli Content, 2012
'Paradise' by Eli Content, 2012
'Paradise' by Eli Content, 2012

I tried to absorb the paper house with my eyes. The details were so fascinating and also familiar. I wanted to store the feeling I got when I looked at this work, so I could close my eyes now and still see it.
He uses stencils. The clear, quick use of his brush makes his work rough, masculine even. Although the images aren't typically male or female.
If I was very careful, I was allowed to enter the paper house. Oh it looked really fragile, due to the faded old newspapers he used for this installation. Yet when you stand in it, it really feels like a little house.

The installation was specially made for Galerie Onrust and therefor temporary. Enjoy the pictures and when you can try to see Eli Content's work live!
'The Creation of Man – Male and Female' by Eli Content

* Text from press release Galerie Onrust

December 16, 2012

'Hollandaise' at SMBA

Videoprojection 'La Javanaise' by Wendelien van Oldenborgh 
and textilework 'Hollandaise' by Abdoulaye Konaté

Wednesday I visited the exhibition Hollandaise at SMBA in Amsterdam. I wrote about in my previous post 'You Make Me Wanna'. It's a really nice exhibition, so if you can try to visit before the 7th of January!

Detail 'Evelyn's Island Escape', textilework by Billie Zangewa

Detail 'Hollandaise', textilework by Abdoulaye Konaté

Videoprojection 'The Currency of Ntoma' by Godfried Donkor

Videoprojection 'The Currency of Ntoma' by Godfried Donkor

I really fell in love with the videoprojection by Godfried Donkor. A two-channel videoprojection shows on one side a women telling about her cloth collection, on the other a young women and girl showing the cloths she is telling about. Of every cloth she tells what it's worth (not in money, but in status) and it's message (what the symbols mean). I watched it twice and I could watch in a million times more.
It's fun recognizing the cloths, learning more about them.

"Using images from mass media, Godfried Donkor plays with the dominant meanings presented in the iconography of mass communication and questions the implications of stereotypes that are presented in newspapers, magazines, advertisements and other printed materials. By combining the imagery and design of popular media with images of black athletes or indigenous people in his paintings, prints and collages, he interrogates not only the mode of representation,but also reveals the power of these media institutions by indicating that the subjects represented have little voice in their own representation. This attitude also includes playful and serious commentary on Western art history, for instance when he creates paintings that represent a black Madonna with child, probably one of the most painted themes in Christian iconography.
For The Currency of Ntoma (fabric) Godfried Donkor entered the domestic environment of his parents and friends of his mother in Kumasi, Ghana, to look at the exceptional and valuable function that textiles have for women in West African countries. Growing up in Ghana, he saw a lot of women who collected textiles, Dutch Wax, batik, kente cloth and lace, and every now and then exchanged these fabrics with each other. Outside the control of their husbands, and sometimes even without their partner’s knowledge, Ghanaian women collect fabrics as a form of savings account. For his film Donkor visited these women, to understand and document this common practice that connects the financial value of the fabrics with the prestige of the owner of the collection of textiles.
His exploration in the fabric collections of Ghanaian women has links with colonial history as well, since Hollandaise and batik are import products that have been bought and sold in Ghana since colonial times. But the position and representation of black women in this film shows that they have appropriated the fabrics to their own advantage. These women emerge as independent and ingenious. They take control over their own lives by creating a collection of valuable cloth. This life-long process of accumulation demonstrates that these women are assertive individuals. Instead of being objects of trade, they trade in objects."
- From SMBA Newsletter N˚130

This text also represents my problem with this exhibition. The images are strong, but the undertone is very negative.
Buying a not african product is compared with still being suppressed.
Textiles have always been a popular object for trade and were collected long before Dutch, French, Portuguese or English colonists set foot in Africa.
In the Newsletter some possible reasons for Vlisco's popularity are mentioned, but only the ones with a colonial twist.
One of the most popular textiles of trade is the Indian chintz. Before we and the Portuguese brought it by boat around 1600, as traders, chintz arrived earlier on the Gold Coast by inland trading routes.

Batik's origin most likely comes from chintz. Their layout has many similarities.
In the Netherlands chintz were very in vogue in the 17th and 18th century. We used them in our traditional costumes and for interior design. Soon in Europe chintz were copied and printed mechanically.
Later Vlisco developed a method to make Javanese Batiks.
The printed Batiks, meant for the Javanese market, were better received in West-Africa. Were Javanese didn't like the printed hard colors and fake irregularities, the West Africans saw the similarities with the chintz and liked the strong, contrasting colours.

All photos above made from videoprojection 'The Currency of Ntoma' by Godfried Donkor

The cloth collection of the lady shown in the video consist of Java Print, Wax Block Print and Kente.
I was really surprised that my first Vlisco, picked out by my mother, express the proverb: 'Only a good mother knows what her childeren will eat'.
In the video projection 'La Javanaise' another way of expressing your feelings with textiles is mentioned. Cloths with French and English rulers were very popular in Africa. Not to support them, but you could literarly sit on their face or were the cloth upside down.
So in the future let the textiles express the protest, not the explanatory text.

'Hollandaise' is open till 6 January at the SMBA in Amsterdam, more information on

December 9, 2012

Batik Statement XIV

Received two Summerful 'Batik Statements' by Yulyana. She posed for me during the BatikFashionPhotoShoot at Taman Indonesia, see blogpost 'Batik Statement XI' and a few days back she put these on my Facebook wall.

On the first picture Yulyana is on the beach in Makassar, South Sulawesi, her home island.
She made the picture just for fun. The Summerhat she holds in her hand matched so good with her cute Batik dress, that she decided to make the picture.

The second one is made during Yulyana's first holiday in the Netherlands. It was a nice sunny day to go picnicking. The black & white batik is actually a skirt, she wore as a tubedress (great fashion tip!). The picnic basket is made of Rotan plant.

Thank you Yulyana for sharing these sunny 'Batik Statements' with us!

Got inspired? Get your Batik on! Make a picture of yourself wearing your favorite Batik and send it to me by email or post it on my Facebook wall. For inspiration see the previous 'Batik Statements' (tip: sunny, nice locations, lots of colors and good memories).

December 8, 2012

Poor Art

Tappeti Natura by Piero Gilardi

Arte Povera (literally poor art) is a modern art movement. The term was introduced in Italy during the period of upheaval at the end of the 1960s, when artists were taking a radical stance. Artists began attacking the values of established institutions of government, industry, and culture, and even questioning whether art as the private expression of the individual still had an ethical reason to exist.*

The first Arte Povera exhibition was held at the Galleria La Bertesca, Genoa, in 1967. Subsequent shows included those at the Galleria De’Foscherari in Bologna and the Arsenale in Amalfi (both 1968), the latter containing examples of performance art by such figures as Michelangelo Pistoletto. In general the work is characterized by startling juxtapositions of apparently unconnected objects: for example, in Venus of the Rags, Pistoletto created a vivid contrast between the cast of an antique sculpture (used as if it were a ready-made) and a brightly coloured pile of rags. Such combination of Classical and contemporary imagery had been characteristic of Giorgio de Chirico’s work from c. 1912 onwards...The Arte Povera artists did not restrict themselves to allusions to Western civilization; from 1968, for example, Mario Merz made igloos (e.g. Double Igloo), referring to nomadic societies, which he admired particularly for being flexible and well adapted to their environments. He himself emulated these qualities in the ease with which he built the igloos from a wide range of both technological and ‘natural’ materials, including metal, glass, neon, slate, wax, earth and wood. This eclecticism in fact emphasized the essential difference between homogeneous traditional cultures and pluralistic modern ones.**

At the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven an exhibition is dedicated to Piero Gilardi (Turin, 1942) 'Collaborative Effects' (till 6 January 2013), one of the founders of Arte Povera. It's a special exhibition, because they show works the artist dissociated himself from.

Piero Gilardi made his so called 'Tappeti Natura' ('Nature Carpets') between 1963 en 1969. These are sculptures made of polyurethan faithfully reproducing elements of the natural world. The 'Nature Carpets' take the form of artificial patches of landscape. These very early pieces were designed to be used and shared.
Shown at leading international avant-garde galleries, their speedy and succesful commodification prompted Gilardi to abondon them (and indeed all other object making). Interestingly this was just as the Arte Povera movement that he was instrumental in assembling and conceptualsing was on the rise.
Although Gilardi shared with many of the Arte Povera artist a concern with combinding nature and culture, the Poplike artificiality and fabricated object still stand in marked contrast to the simple materiality of the work most associated with the movement.***

'Angurie'/'Watermelons' by Piero Gilardi, 1967
Starting in 1964 Piero Gilardi experimented with clothes of polyurethane, with the aim to create certain situations. His 'Vestiti' ('dresses') can be divided in two categories:'Vestiti Stati D'animo' ('Mood Suits')and 'Vestiti Natura' ('Nature Dresses'). The first type represents feelings and emotions, while the dresses belonging to the second category with their themes of fruit, vegetables and organic components resemble the 'Tappeti Natura'.
Each dress was presented by means of a performance. The dresses were worn by performers who staged a dance often in interaction with the carpets.****
'Greto di fiume'/'Riverbed' by Piero Gilardi, 1967
What made Piero Gilardi's 'Tappeti Natura' such salable art? Was it because it was permanent and hangable? Because it was fun? Or because the maker was such a impressive character?
What ever the reason was, it was reason enough for Piero to start making something else.
Most artists, and mostly society, thinks that making money with art is what you must achieve to become a real artist.
Most artists that start making money, feel like being cursed. You're trapped in making the same product. You're not creating, you're producing. Of course this doesn't have to be a problem, but must it be our goal?
But don't you want to live from making art, you might wonder? Don't you want to earn some butter on your bread?
Yes and No. It's great if you sell an artwork. And it's a big compliment. But I also have to say no. I do not want to live from making art, I want to live making art. I want to earn the right to do so and to be able to keep doing so.

What many of you might not know, is that Vincent van Gogh was almost famous during his life. His work was shown in Paris (the book with the exact info is in my studio, so I will add that later). He got praising reviews and letters from fellow artist expressing how inspiring his work was. Vincent didn't feel the relief or joy he thought he would. Instead he didn't like this sudden success at all. He felt his work wasn't good enough and thought they were fools for believing in his art, so he left the Paris art scene behind.
Nowadays we just learn that Vincent never sold a painting in his life, poor artist...

Could selling your art really be the goal?
Shouldn't it be making art? * From Wikipedia

** Art Term 'Arte Povera' by MoMa

*** 'Radically Yours!' exhibition-folder van Abbemuseum, Autumn 2012

**** From Informationbords at the exhibition 'Collaborative Effects'

December 5, 2012

Batik Statement XIII

The sweet couple Nouk & Kerwin wanted to pose for me in full Batik during the BatikFashionPhotoShoot at Taman Indonesia. The more, the better. This makes it a really happy, colorful Batik Statement. They are wearing both Batiks I brought with me and Batiks from the Taman Indonesia shop.

Nouk Moltmaker is a student at the Art Academie Minerva in Groningen. She showed some of her work during the WinterFashionFair at Taman Indonesia. Looking forward seeing more art by Nouk!

Thanks for your Batik Statement!

Got inspired? Get your Batik on! Make a picture of yourself wearing your favorite Batik and send it to me by email or post it on my Facebook wall. For inspiration see the previous 'Batik Statements' (tip: sunny, nice locations, lots of colors and good memories).

December 4, 2012

You Make Me Wanna *

'Happy Family' by Vlisco

My first love was patterns. This love was best shared in Batik. When in 2009 I received a grant to learn about and develop my love for patterns, I focused on Javanese Batik. At first I tried to learn about the classic patterns and motifs, but it was a difficult language to read without help. The Batiks made during the period of 1850 till 1950 started to caught my eye. They were more simplified, more cartoonish. Big vases full of flowers surrounded by butterflies, little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella and her prince charming. Playing cards, dices and lucky clovers. Symbols I understood and could read. Maybe more common, but more accessible for me.
By reading and learning about Batik Belanda I hoped to learn more about the classic, original Batiks.
I did, but I also started to learn about our colonial history. And how Dutch traditions and folk art are maybe more exotic than we want to think.
The stories about the Batik entrepreneurs in Pekalongan inspired me. Strong, independent women running a business in a man's world. A world I want to learn more, everything about. Buying books, googling away, following the VOC paths of trade I somehow landed on the Gold Coast.
Dutch printed cloths based on Javanese Batiks found a market there. The base for Vlisco was born. New patterns were made, filling in the costumers demand. The African Batiks have the same quality in story telling for me as Batik Belanda. They don't wear Batik with some hidden message, they are giving a statement.

Reading about this I came up with the idea to call the Fashion Batik Photo's 'Batik Statements'. This passed week many lovely 'Batik Statements' I made at the WinterFashionFair at Taman Indonesia I posted on this blog (and some more to come).

My love for Batik is only getting stronger and with it I discover new kinds of Batiks as I research and read. My love for Javanese Batik will never go away, but a new love for African Batik is developing as well. Also the strong way Vlisco promotes and share there products is very inspiring and I think all Batikmakers can learn a great deal by watching and following Vlisco's campaigns.

One of their promo campaigns was that you receive a special Java print calender with your purchase. I'm a sucker for these kinds of things. So I ordered my first real full yards Vlisco 'Happy Family'!
Book 'Textielwaren' with Vlisco samples from 1941 found in secondhand shop on Java print calender 2013 by Vlisco

Today I discovered there website Share the stories behind the fabrics. A site were you can upload your story behind the pattern. Read and enjoy! And don't forget to add your story (and share it with me ofcourse).

A must see and must visit exhibition (I'm going next week, jippie!) 'Hollandaise' at SMBA in Amsterdam is till 6 of January 2013:
"HOLLANDAISE is a critical, contemporary art exhibition built around this typical textile. The idea for the exhibition is from curator Koyo Kouoh, who is director of her own art institution in Dakar, Senegal. She asked five artists to delve into the phenomenon of Hollandaise and the peculiar trading relations and cultural interchanges that it represents. They all produced new work especially for this exhibition, which after Amsterdam will travel on to Dakar.

Growing up in Africa, Kouoh became fascinated by Hollandaise. The exuberantly decorated textiles are used chiefly for clothing for special occasions, such as weddings and funerals. Some patterns are therefore emotionally identified with specific events in one's own life history. But despite the success of Hollandaise on the African market and its strong identification as African, Africans themselves are hardly involved in the creative process for ‘their’ fabric at all. Furthermore, today the Dutch market leader is encountering heavy competition from the Far East. Yesterday's imitator is being imitated in turn.

The exhibition HOLLANDAISE is a creative and also critical examination of such historical, global developments and their local implications."
Aynouk Tan wearing Vlisco. She was wearing this creation at the opening of SMBA's 'Hollandaise'

* Titel post inspired by Usher's song 'You Make Me Wanna'

December 3, 2012

Batik Statement XII

Charlotte was Batik Statement ready at the WinterFashionFair. She brought her 'Love Boat' Batik and she was modeling the day before, so she knew how to pose. I was really happy with that.

The 'Love Boat' Batik is from Kuta on Bali. Kuta is a former fishing village, it was one of the first towns on Bali to see substantial tourist development, and as a beach resort remains one of Indonesia's major tourist destinations. It is known internationally for its long sandy beach, varied accommodation, many restaurants and bars, and many renowned surfers who visit from Australia.

Charlotte thinks the Batik is based on a 60's / 70's pattern. When she was in Kuta she was expecting her first born, Lucia Hannah Indah Wareman. Because of this the holiday was really a kind of honeymoon. And this really beautiful, romantic picture below is good proof of that!
Thank you Charlotte for sharing this special Batik with us!

More Batik Statements made at the Taman Indonesia WinterFashionFair soon here on my blog!

December 2, 2012

Batik Statement XI

For this Batik Statement I asked the wonderful Yulyana to pose for me. She works at Taman Indonesia and for the FashionPhotoshoot I dressed her up with a Batik from my mothers collection. This beautiful blue with white Batik was used many years as a table cloth for special occasions (see post 'IV inspiration around me', but makes a beautiful dress as well.

Thanks Yulyana!
More Batik Statements made at the Taman Indonesia WinterFashionFair soon here on my blog!

December 1, 2012

Batik Statement X

During my BatikFashionPhotoShoot at Taman Indonesia I had a great assistant. Sue helped me dresses the 'models', holding the background Batiks and made different Batik Statements of her own during the day. She also made a Batik Statement of me, I will posted that later on my blog.

The Batiks Sue is wearing (and as background) are from the Taman Indonesia shop. Her blackandwhite scarf (see last picture) she was already wearing when she arrived, she also bought that at Taman Indonesia.

Thanks for helping and love your Batik Statements!
More Batik Statements made at the Taman Indonesia WinterFashionFair soon here on my blog!