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


‘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


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!