October 18, 2022

“I wonder how many dots we make"

~ Mbak Siti said while carefully making tiny dots with the canting in wax during my visit to Miss Nurul's home

Buketan inspired costume during Batik Carnival Parade in Pekalongan

Miss Nurul and her family making Batik at their home

Repro's of Fairytale batiks at Museum Batik in Pekalongan

In the bus to Lasem, a pretty bumpy ride and had a few hours a curious neighbour who wanted to know if I knew all the places that have Batik. I got pretty far, still many places I haven’t visited yet.
My week in Pekalongan and Batang went by so quickly and I am happy I know I will return already next month.
My head is busy from all the input & information I got in Pekalongan & Batang. Of course you hope that everyone is just doing good, maybe wish it is going a little better, but it is not well with our Batik city and the pembatiks in this region.

Making a little Batik at the Museum Batik

That disappeared, so didn't see final result

On Saturday Museum Batik was busy as always, but the new exhibition was still being build up. However I was happy to be back here, the space I took my much needed breaks when I was here last time as a special guest.
Went through the exhibition which had reproductions of classic fairy tale designs. The repro in Batik Tulis show nicely when there is access to the original or not. My guess is all were made from books, with some having more detailed images than others. Might dive into this more another time, but will put here photos to compare. 

Batik with Snow white, Original from after 1906

Repro of Snow White at the Museum Batik in Pekalongan

Batik with Little Read Riding Hood - NOT by Von Franquemont 
- wrongly attributed, original from around 1910
At Museum Danar Hadi in Solo

Repro of Little Red Riding Hood at the Museum Batik in Pekalongan

After taking a look around, Ibu Mourni said I should make a batik. The batikworkshop space the museum has is very popular and every day you can learn applying the wax with cap & tulis and even the dyeing. Ibu Mourni let me pick multiple caps and gave me a bigger cloth. Ibu Mourni showed me once how it was done, so I could mess up the border pretty nicely myself. I only did it once correctly, but in my defence haven’t tried a cap since 2009, I think.
Of course had to do the tulis too. There was no time to colour it, since it was busy and when I returned the next Friday my work disappeared. Most likely coloured in by someone else, which I take as a compliment.
I brought the magazine BATIK! to give to museum, Ibu Nurhayati meet me to accept it from the library. She right away tried the wrap tutorial and asked me to explain what other articles were in there, since it is written in Dutch. 
Spend last time here many moments between events drinking kopi. So when Mas Lani saw I was offered tea, he came back with kopi. 
I looked for kucing (cat) Frederika, I think she might not be there anymore, but a very pregnant cat was now roaming the halls that could be her daughter. 

Ibu Nurhayati received a copy of the magazine BATIK! from me
for the museum library collection

After the museum I went to Pekan Batik. The always booming Batik Week event was now an empty space. The big venue has not been filled due to too high prices for stalls, little customers who can afford to buy and the floods…Really sad to see. I thought they will be back with a bang, celebrating Batik. It surprised me, I would have wanted to fill the space.

Mbak Siti showing me her batiks made 
with both natural and synthetic dyes

The red she made by accident, and the retry on cotton that turned brown

The seeds she uses to colour her batiks

On Sunday I went to meet Mbak Siti. So great to see her again after 3 years. Her daughter has grown so much, but still loves to draw and a new baby boy is already a toddler. Mbak Siti showed me her latests experiments. It is so inspiring and beautiful to she her creations. Next to bought better known natural dyes like Indigo, Mbak Siti sources her ‘warna alami’ near here home. She even planted one in front of the house. She opened up the spiky fruit it bears to reveal tiny seeds. The seeds give her an orange kind of brown. With just dyeing pretty bright but with boiling out the wax it becomes more beige. She also showed me a bright red  which happened by accident, but she couldn’t recreate. 
Although there is no local market for her natural dye, she is determine to continue learning and hopes one day more will follow in her region. I am so so so happy I can include her amazing work(s) in my upcoming exhibition. In the meantime I will work with her on dye recipes and improving the market ~ because we need to re-love natural dye, we are so used to our bright, flat colours, that every dot or fade seems like a mistake, but it is not, it is the beauty of hours of labor.
Miss Nurul joined us also, and she said yes too. It was so wonderful to spend the morning here, talking batik and future plans. 

Mak Si'Um showing her latest design

On Monday I went to Batang again. In the morning a live event was being hosted by Batik community Rifai’yah in Kalipucang. It was live streamed to Portland. In the gallery we looked on a screen what was actually happening around the corner.
Mbak Siti met me at the event so we could meet Mak Si’Um. 

I was I this region longer in 2016 when I visited many of the batikmakers in region and filmed some for my short film ‘Tari Batik’.
In 2019 I only got to see some shortly and missed Mak Si’Um. So I was so glad I got the visit Mak Si’Um now twice. This granddame of Batik has been making batik since 10 years old and is approaching 90. Every day she still makes Batik, her own fun designs since she says she cannot produce the fine lines any more. However her Batik is unique and really modern. At the moment she still does everything herself, from the wax until the lorod {boiling out}. Hope Mak Si’Um daughter(s) will start helping their mother in producing more of her designs, Mak Si’Um has so many ideas and it would be amazing if her Art can be enjoyed by more to see. My exhibition being one of them!

Although the batiks from Batang are getting better known, the batikmakers have a hard time. I heard sells had stopped since the pandemic, the money they make now is directly put into new mori {cotton cloth} to be able to produce new Batik. The strength these women have to to keep pushing forward, keep making Batik, not just because it what they do or know, it is truly a commitment of love. That can use much more support. Not just in words, events, promotion, but more practical in the production and in funding…

At Miss Nurul's home

On Tuesday after visiting Mak Si’Um again, I returned to Miss Nurul’s home. I met Miss Nurul and her family first in 2016. That is when I also met Mbak Siti, to find someone speaking fluent English in a desa like this is a big surprise and I have to thank Mbak Siti for making time for me to help me with interviewing Mak Si’Um who only knows Javanese.
Back to Miss Nurul, one of the youngest makers I know, I filmed her in 2016 and returned in 2019 when I did a workshop with them. When I was there Miss Nurul and her family were producing batiks for an upcoming event in Jakarta and for the many orders she got. Instagram really helps her to reach more people and happy to see that at least somewhere sells are picking up. But it also shows how difficult it is for the older generation if re-seller don’t come to the kampung to buy, orders stop and they have no other way of selling their batiks.
At Miss Nurul home everyone joins in the making. Nurul works every day together with her two sisters, mother and aunt. Even Mbak Siti takes some orders at home.
It was great to be there; talking designs, history, inspiration and ideas for the future.
Wish I could stay here all week, but these women have orders to make & households to run. So I am still so so so honoured I got to spend time with them and feel so welcome.

Design by Ibu Widianti

Wednesday I got to meet Ibu Widianti who runs the famous batikworkshop Oey Soe Tjoen. We already met through the phone but this was the first time in person. I am so happy we got to meet twice this week & looking forward to returning to Pekalongan next month.
Ibu Widianti is preparing for an exhibition and a book to celebrate 100 years OST in 2025. The exhibition will be held in Jakarta. For this she is producing new batiks, classic design and of her own hand. Ibu Widianti shared some of her own designs with us and they are the cutest Batik I have ever seen. Fun, cartoon design with all the OST quality and detail. One was of school kids playing and an unlaying theme of cleaning up rubbish. The other displayed the life of Jesus. 
I hope to include Ibu Widianti own work in my own exhibition. So I will return to Pekalongan to discuss this further and interview her. I will keep you posted about it, so exciting!

Eco Print workshop at Museum Batik

Thursday I was a little unwell for a day, so the day after I thought a relax workshop at Museum Batik would be a good way to spend the day. Turned out Eco Printing is very labourful (why is this not a word). I remember my niece Surya de Wit explaining it as “basically you just hammer to flowers into a pulp”.
After the instructions we starting hammering away, only to find out the hammers were too soft for the pretty tough leaves. Everyone got really creative using the wood of the hammer. Although it was a bit much, I had a lot of fun, also because of my kind fellow participants who has all kind of questions for me. Pretty happy with the result, although I couldn’t pulp it that much. Curious how the colours will change over time.

Batik Carnival

Saturday I had the great honour of being in the jury of this years Batik Carnival Parade in Pekalongan. My fellow juries were no other than Ibu Widianti of OST, Arif Tuep of the Solo Batik Carnival and Arif Wicaksono of Kampong Batik Kauman.
I was in the jury in 2019 ~ which was a dream come true ~ and to be invited again for the first edition after the pandemic is so amazing, I am so over the moon.
As a jury we started at 8 in the morning to see all the videos the participants made of their costumes, explaining in detail their concept and showing the making off. 
At around 11 we headed to the stadium where the participants were getting ready for the pre-parade, a showcase of their costumes just for the jury and media. It was great to have the opportunity to see the costumes up-close, check out their use of fabric ~ since the use of Batik Print (fake imitations) meant disqualification. Not from the parade, but for the prices. When I asked how strict this was, since someone can mistake print for real easily, I was explained it was always a disqualification. The participants were given a zoom lesson on how to recognize real Batik and knew the risk when entering with imitations.
So the participants costumes got checked on use of fabric, the more Batik, the better. Plus points were given for using the Batik designs/motifs selected for that year with a connection to Pekalongan being: Jlamprang (similar to Nitik), Benji (which  I know as Banji), Buketan, Tiga Negeri and Liris (which is Lereng, so diagonal motifs like parang).
So much detail goes into the outfits, ornaments and make-up. I loved all the batik shoes, I spotted doc martens with banji pattern how cool. 
What was also fantastic to watch is the community, how everyone is working hard to present their team in the best way possible ~ cheering their models on, often dressed in matching outfits. Some of the models were so nervous at the beginning. When we saw them at the end of the day they all walked so proud.
The pre-parade was at 12, in 2019 I had only the chance to give points during the actual parade, which was a bit chaotic. Now with the videos, time to walk around and the catwalk, it was much easier. 
After the pre-parade we headed back to the temporary office to figure out what our top 3 were. We were pretty much on the same page, having some differences but no big discussion were needed.
At around 15 we were brought to the end of the parade to see the full show and what a show it was!

To all who walked the parade, know you are all winners.
Thank you Pekalongan for hosting this beautiful Batik celebration, 
super proud of you Pekalongan and so happy to be part of it. 
Keep on celebrating Batik!
And till next post!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow really amazing dear , Thank you for your participating and being part of the Indonesian cultural arts event