October 31, 2023

Pasar Batik & Batik Research Workshop at Erasmus Huis

Ibu Siti's daughter posing in the library of Erasmus Huis
with the book 'Batik drawn in wax'
 by Dutch former textile conservator Itie van Hout about the Tropenmuseum batik collection, 
now Wereldmuseum Amsterdam
Photo by Ibu Siti

Anna Silooy and me during the Batik Research Workshop
Photo by Ardita of Erasmus Huis

First time in a train that honks non stop, not sure it is because I am in the front that I hear it better or just an overactive conductor. Anyway I will blame my typos on this. My short weekend escape to Pekalongan and Batang gave me some room to gather my thoughts.  It is like I cannot land in Jakarta, everything feels unreal and with the amazing openingsweekend I needed some space to give it a place. My heart is still full and reading all the positive responses and seeing all the creative social media posts made in the exhibition just makes me so happy and proud.

Mak Sium packing in the sold items
Photo by me

Ibu Siti made smaller Batik artworks for the Pasar Batik
the natural dye process is long and in this size it is easier to experiment with colours 
while being mother of two young children. 
Photo by me

Ibu Ramini of KUB Srikandi showing her batiks
Photo by Mas Karim

On Sunday 22 October, last week, we held a Pasar Batik at Erasmus Huis with the pembatiks who are showcased in the exhibition ‘Masa depan Batik | Future of Batik’; Ibu Ramini of KUB Srikandi, Mbak Eka of Batik Lumintu, Ibu Siti, Mbak Nurul of Batik Tulis Batang and Mak Sium. What is better than being able to buy art from the artists directly!! To have enough stock they started producing a year ago and I am very thankful all batik fans, friends and collectors showed up to shop. Also many of the Dutch embassy took this opportunity to get some wonderful handmade pieces. I gave little tours in the exhibition and every time I walked back I saw at every stall batiks being unfolded and bought. Of course couldn’t resist buying some batiks myself. Most I will bring to Singapore for my small pop-up event at aNERDgallery ‘Oh, That Batik Bolk, a weekend with Sabine Bolk’ from 10 till 12 November. Love this title! Hope to see everyone in Singapore there!

Mak Sium poses at the booth of Batik Lumintu with Mbak Eka and Miss Tasya
Photo by Mas Karim

Me and Jennifer of The AriaBatik
 checking out the wonderful pieces by Mak Sium
Photo by Mas Karim

Next to shopping Batik at the Pasar Batik, we had a booth by Kesengsem Lasem selling their fashion items like bucket hats and jackets. The Sore Santai Market provided booths with snacks, drinks and more shopping fun. I tried some boterkoek, which is actually a dutch thing and got a lovely present from Kalimantan from Kain Dadi.
Next to shopping, we had a fashionshow. The newly made streetwear collection ‘Jagad Phoenix’ by Kabari was brought to the runway. The models were mostly of the Dutch embassy, thanks to Anna Silooy of Erasmus Huis and did a great job modelling the batik looks, cheered on by their collegues. It was so much fun and a nice moment to show how fun, modern and new Batik can be. Thank Ibu Yullia for helping me organise it!

Fashionshow 'Jagad Phoenix' by Kabari from Rembang
Photo by Ardita of Erasmus Huis

Everyone taking a picture at the end of the fashionshow 'Jagad Phoenix'
Photo by me

After the Pasar Batik the pembatiks and their family from Batang returned home. At 4am the group from Lasem returned home. Weaving them out teary-eyed, what a weekend and what a great way of getting to celebrate my 14 year journey. Just wauw!
That evening I had one more opening program to do. Next to the exhibition and pasar, my work in research had to be included of course.
As part of my project at Erasmus Huis, I wanted to include my research, but not just my published findings, more a place where you could actual work on Batik research yourself. Like a Batik Research Center that can hopefully continue and grow also after this exhibition. Specifically for those who want to know more about collections kept in the Netherlands, about Dutch scholars in the past and want to prepare for studying Batik in the Netherlands. 
For the library I brought together a collection of books on Batik and the close related topics such as the Dutch imitation batik. The books are in Dutch, English and Indonesian and are partly by Dutch scholars and on Dutch collections. 

The books I got partly as donations, partly bought, 
that were added to the Erasmus Huis library

Mas Fairuzulhaq during our talk about Eliza van Zuylen
Photo by me

Next to the books, I was thinking about how to make the Dutch digital collections more accessible. There are great archives with Batik collection and information on Batik, but most are in Dutch, as in the system behind it. This makes it difficult to work with many of them for people who do not master the Dutch language. Because I work a lot with these databases and learned basically by doing, I thought it would be nice to put some tips and tricks into tutorials. At the moment this tutorials can only be accessed by using the QR codes in the library. I will make them available publicly on a later date. 

Teacher mode on during the Batik Research Workshop
Photo by Ardita of Erasmus Huis

Batik Research Workshop in the library of Erasmus Huis
Photo by Ardita of Erasmus Huis

So back to Monday 23 October, I gave a Batik Research Workshop. To our surprise fully booked in a very short time, so new one is coming up > 20 November, more info soon on the Erasmus Huis page.
Before the workshop started I had a short research session with Mas Fairuzulhaq. We have been chatting through messenger for a few months now, since he reached out to me about his plans to research batik entrepreneur Eliza van Zuylen and specifically how to identify a real Van Zuylen vs a later date imitation of her designs. This interesting research topic brings to light many difficulties. First, how to get information. The sources in Bahasa Indonesia are limited and mostly based on sources from Dutch authors (which sometimes write in English, but not always). These sources, books and articles, are if you are lucky only available in Jakarta. The library of Museum Batik in Pekalongan has a lot, but not so much as Museum Tekstil in Jakarta, but by far not as much as I can access in the Netherlands at for example the library of Wereldmuseum Leiden (former Museum Volkenkunde), or the University Library in Leiden, or the library of Textielmuseum in Tilburg. 
The second issue, what if what you are looking for is not mentioned in any of the books and need to do comparisons with actual batik pieces. You need access to either very good detail photos, but even better, the actual batiks. I think most original Eliza van Zuylen pieces are privately owned in Indonesia, the later imitations are what most museum collection have. So I told Mas Fairuzulhaq to reach out to collectors and asked them about their pieces. He got either no reply or a 'no thank you'. Although I insured him this was when I started the case too, and it unfortunately takes time before collectors and researchers want to share their collections and knowledge, it was really discouraging. For me personally him wanted to do this research as a student from Pekalongan is reason enough to help, but I also told him, This is part of the research. The fact that is is inaccessible, hard to get answers, is just as good part of the story as the solutions you hope to find. It is good and important to share which walls we try to climb or break down. Otherwise how can it be done?
I was glad I got to share some time with him in person, giving him some guidance on books to check out and of course he joined my workshop too.

Batik Research Workshop
Photo by Ardita of Erasmus Huis

Batik Research Workshop
Photo by me

In the workshop I used a more hands-on approach. With two exercises the database of the Wereldmuseum together with provided literature sources were used to find answers. It was also a way of sharing new findings and other sources that not yet made it into the database. So to think beyond what is put in the books and in the database. While I thought mostly students would join, I had curators from museums, collectors and just really big batik fans joining the workshop. Everyone worked so dedicated to find the answers. It was so great to share my research in this way and looking forward to doing this workshop again in Singapore on 11 November at aNERDgallery and on 20 November at Erasmus Huis in Jakarta.

Pak William with Ibu Siti and her family
Photo by me

No comments: