November 7, 2023

True Blue*

Indigo dyeing in process, 4 November at Erasmus Huis

I had to return from Pekalongan and Batang right away after the weekend, because the Dutch embassy and Erasmus Huis would get a visit of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 1 November, and it would include a visit to my exhibition. I never gave such a quick tour in my life, but it was happy I could share a little about the stories behind the batiks made by Ibu Ramini, Ibu Siti and Mak Sium. So in 5 minutes Hanke Bruins Slot was off to her next meeting.

Wrapping batik at Esmod

In the afternoon I headed to Ibu Liesna at Esmod. We hope to create a pop-up fashion moment in the exhibition in which students create looks by just wrapping the batiks. The students came to the Pasar Batik to pick out two kains they wanted to use. 
Ibu Liesna already did a pre-wrapping session and we tried 3 looks using two kains. Looking forward to see the final wraps!

Pak Bahri with a new Batik design with turtles, 
motif name Serak Danau Spin (Kura-kura Danau Sipin) Latar Bungo Klambanq Bertaut

Basket with fish in new batik design 'Jagad Panguripan' from Batang

New batik motif 'Semanggi Kontak Listrik'

On 2 November I headed to the presentation and exhibition of Pak William Kwan’s latest research project on Batik Jambi & Batang; Pameran Merangkai Batik
Bhinneka Tunggal Ika. In the exhibition, which was way to short on display only 3 days, Pak William showed pieces from his collection, new made designs created by artisans in Jambi and Batang and collaborations of the two. There were some really fun designs, about lighting and electricity, or on local crafts like basket weaving, but also sea turtles and revivals of classic motifs. One of this classic ones right away caught my eye. Pak Zainul Bahri who made the Jambi pieces, said to me, this is a very old motif from Jambi. The motif in question is a motif I know all too well, because it is on one of the pieces I have been researching to. This motif is referred to in old documents as ‘Dancing peacocks’, while Pak Bahri birds were called ‘Kuau Berhias’ which translated into ‘Decorated Pheasants’. I shared this together with the new motif next to old one on my social media and oh how I love my friends. Jennifer got inspired by my post and started googling. She not only found that the local bird Kuau and Peacocks are closely related. The Kuau bird recently was re-discovered in Aceh! She shared a video of the bird and actually they do truly dance to impress the females. So a real Dancing peacock. There are several subspecies of the bird, even one called Bornean peacock-pheasant. So probably both names are right, but over time the motif was more explained as a peacock, will actually it is more a pheasant. To be continued…

New design by Pak Bahri, motif name 'Kuau Berhias'

Old version from before 1874, 
Collection Wereldmuseum Rotterdam, 
inventorynumber WM-272

The talk ‘Diskusi Literasi: Ecoefisiensi & Masa Depan Batik Indonesia’ held at the venue was interesting and frustrating. It was a younger generation sharing their thoughts on Batik, but two explained how ‘cold wax’ was a good idea for the future of batik. ‘Malam dinggin’ is not batik. It is a resist dye technique using screenprinting, or “sjablon. But only the hot wax process is batik as stated clearly in the description of this Unesco intangible heritage. Brands that work with Malam dinggin are happy to post pictures of pembatiks, but never of their actual workshop where the screenprinting is done. These small workshop don’t have any protective measures for the makers, the working conditions are really bad, at least seen from the secret videos shared online. Worst of all, the whole it is cheaper argument is only for the one who produce and sells it. The malam dinggin products are as high or higher priced than batik. It is so smart to tell consumers that it is cheaper. Honestly just buy a real batik and go to a tailor, or learn to wrap it in different ways and have 5 looks for the price of one. We should not consider ‘Malam dinggin’ as a good solution.
Luckily Pak Bahri saved the morning by sharing with us batiks he made based on old motifs he could find in books and (Dutch) collections. He even showed us two old Jambi batiks, which were almost falling apart, but still so gorgeous. Wanted have a closer look, but had to run of to go to a meeting at Erasmus Huis.

Slide on 'Cold wax', next to Batik Tulis

Pak Bahri sharing a old Jambi Batik with us

In the afternoon Chandra Prijosusilo visited my exhibition. I have been admiring her work for a while now. As the founder of Sekar Kawung Social Enterprize that focusses on Biodiversity & culture for sustainable prosperity, Chandra did remarkable projects with textile communities. She is not just looking at the craft, but at the full picture. So what is needed to grow and maintain to be able to continue the craft in a sustainable way, improving not just the craft but their surrounding as well. At the moment her focus is on Tuban.
She brought with her this so stylishly dressed couple Mas Lalu Hilman Afriandi and his wife Dina of Bidadariku. They make natural produced textiles in Lombok and they were dressed head to tow in it too. 
What an honour to have such amazing visitors. By the way, we already had more than a 1000 visitors!!
It was so wonderful to go with them through the exhibition. The work by Ibu Siti, which is fully done in natural dye, and the Natural Dye lab project had their interest. They looking forward to the continuation of this project, Nidi and Tony! 
At my small cinema, we watched ‘Tari Batik'. Automatically ‘Dance in a ricecarpet’ started playing too and we ended up watching it in full. We laughed about how “mainstream” my exhibition is, compared to my older work. Thank you so much for your visit and cannot wait for our next meet-up in Yogya or Tuban!

Ibu Chandra, me, Ibu Dina and Mas Lalu at my exhibition

On Friday 3 November me and Ibu Liesna went to visit Griya Peni, the creative home/workshop of Ibu Indra and her daughter Peni. 
I have seen Ibu Indra often during the pandemic in zooms on Batik, either as a speaker or as a participants like me. I was so happy when Ibu Indra, her daughter and full Griya Peni team attended the Pasar Batik. 
So Friday me and Ibu Liesna went to their place, thanks Liesna for driving and joining me. The place is great, but a little outside of Jakarta. It was so nice to see be there and share stories. Every corner is pretty and I am sure who ever follows a workshop there has a lovely time.
Thanks for welcome me & read more in Bahasa Indonesia on their blog; DIPLOMASI WASTRA bersama Ms. SABINE BOLK

Ibu Liesna at Griya Peni

Slendang mural outside of Griya Peni with Ibu Indra

Saturday was an event I was looking forward to and was scared off all at once. The Batikworkshop with Indigo. I have been giving workshop myself and doing it on a new location is always exciting, but now with buying, borrowing and improvising the needed materials, I really was like, can we? But it went perfect. Museum Tekstil borrowed us all the material we needed for the batik making. So the stoves {kompor}, little stools, canting, wax, bigger stove for boiling out the wax {lorod}, a pan and plastic containers for rinsing. Their batik teachers Mbak Yeni and Mas Edy were there to guide everyone to the process. At Museum Tekstil you can follow Batik courses (I believe every weekend, and on request). At the moment they are closed for renovations, but later this year you can go there again to learn making batik. 
Mbak Elisa of Jivaloka was our Indigo expert all the way from Yogyakarta. It was amazing to see her create a dye vat, all natural, in the morning. Her focus is indigo, so it was great to put her expertise together with Museum Tekstil. Mbak Yeni and Mas Edy had loads of questions for her, and it turned out they never had an Indigo vat at the museum. Because the dye vat wouldn’t be used at Erasmus Huis after the workshop and couldn’t be brought home with Elisa, so we were very happy ‘migunani’ { useful/nuttig as Elisa named the vat } was brought to Museum Tekstil after the workshop. Talking about Masa depan Batik!

Mbak Elisa of Jivaloka with Indigo dyevat ‘Migunani'

Ibu Yeni explaining how to use the canting to draw the hot wax

Starting with a blank canvas

Giving information on Indigo while bringing the vat to live

30+ participants making batik

Ready to be dipped into the Indigo

Watching everyones dyed batiks

Mas Edy of Museum Tekstil boiling out the wax

We worked on cotton prepared by Ibu Siti in Batang, the cotton has to be mordant so the dye can go into the cloth. I cut it on size the night before. Ripping pieces of white cotton in a hotelroom is a strange experience and I was worried my neighbors might call the hotel wkwkwk.
I didn’t put a drawing with pencil on the cloth, I never do that, but it is very common on Java. So first the participants were like, we need to design ourselves?!? 
I was so happy that after a short moment, they all just dove in it, creating all unique pieces.
The participants came in as early as 9.30. After meeting Elisa and talk about Indigo, they would start with drawing the wax. When it was time for the first group to start dyeing, the dye vat was a little bit too hot. Luckily Hema the small restaurant at Erasmus Huis provided us with buckets of icecubes. It cooled it enough down, to put the cloth in without melting the wax already. 
The participants had to dip their batiks 3 to 4 times to get a dark enough blue before boiling the wax out. We really had a nice production going on with timers going off, people rinsing, hanging to dry, taking the dried pieces and putting it back in the dye vat.
By 13.30 all batiks were ready to have the wax removed, so perfectly on time. Amazing with 30+ participants! And everyone was so happy with their own made batik!
Thanks Elisa, Mbak Yeni, Mas Edy, Mas Ardi, Museum Tekstil and Ibu Siti! Thanks Erasmus Huis for letting me host this workshop!
Up to the next one!

Insta story of Elisa of Jivaloka

* True love
You're the one I'm dreaming of
Your heart fits me like a glove
And I'm gonna be true blue, baby, I love you
                                                        - Madonna

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