September 26, 2016

Yogya & Solo

View from the train from Bandung to Yogya

After a train ride that lasted longer then my patience, I arrived with a welcome hug from my dear friend Barbara in Yogyakarta. I had to miss her for 5 year. It is so nice to see the person that is so dear to you laugh, talk and share the last passed years with you. And it is so great to get to know her wonderful husband Joko. Read more about him also in my previous blogpost 'The journey to Batik - introducing Joko Supriyono'.

In the garden wearing dress gift from Barbara 

The house of Barbara and Joko near Yogyakarta is a little piece of paradise. The next day I spent enjoying the garden, cleaning my cloths and unpacking. 
Barbara is teaching English conversation classes, so I accompanied her twice to watch her teach and to converse with the students about Batik, Indonesian and Dutch culture. A nice way of learning and sharing experience of a 'Bule'.
Till Yogya my 'Bule' status was not so underlined yet. In Jakarta & Bandung only Taksi drivers seem to react strongly on it, but most people just think you are on business.
In Yogya the 'Miss, can we take picture' started. Well, it actually started in Bandung when I was sitting on a bench in the Museum Geologi and a guy sit next to me while his friend quickly took a picture of us. I didn't forget, but somehow I was suspecting it. It is a strange, fun, sometimes annoying, but a interesting experience to be ask by random people to pose on a photo with them just because you are a foreigner.

Looking at Joko's Tattoo designs

Next to sharing coffee & stories with Barbara, visitings Joko's Tattoo studio and planning my upcoming travels, I also got some Batik fun!
Together with a friend of Barbara I visited a place where they make Batik patterns on wood. Until I actually saw it with my own eyes, I didn't know these Batik motifs are also being made with canting. It is Batik Tulis in wood!
I was so surprised and happy! 

Batik Tulis on wood in Yogya

I also met with Hanif, the daughter of pembatik Ibu Maryati, to arrange my visit to Jeruk. She took me to the Museum Batik in Yogyakarta. A small museum full of old Batiks. The collection is displayed on rolls and some pieces are framed. Photographing is only allowed in the beginning were they explain the process of making Batik. Our guide gave a good tour in English and there are some very nice pieces in the collection. I particularly liked the very high quality Batiks from Lasem. Also because I was there with the daughter of a Batik maker that works directly in that history/heritage. On one cloth was a pattern in the background in a soft green. Little grains of rice. The grains of rice Ibu Maryati in Jeruk uses now in a bigger version.
Another nice piece of which they had two versions, one in Sogan (brown/blue/white) and one in blue & white. It was 'Thumbina" ("Duimelijntje"/ Klein meisje). "Thumbelina" (Danish: Tommelise) is a literary fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen first published on 16 December 1835 in Denmark. The motif on the Batik was a repeating patten of a girl shaped figure with an flower around her head. Simple, but the first time I saw this fairy tale in a Batik.

Our guide

Batik "brushes" were in use before the canting pen 

Seven dot canting pen, no longer being used by pembatiks

On Friday 23 September I headed to Solo for the Payung Festival and to meet Rusmilawati. We met before in Yogya on my last night in 2009 and later when she was studying in Leiden. So great to meet friends again after so many years!
The Payung or Umbrella Festival is a yearly event of three days in Solo were they decorate a park with hand painted paper umbrellas and celebrate different Indonesian cultured. Part of the event are two parades. I unfortunately missed the more Batik filled Carnaval on Sunday, but I could see the Umbrella parade.
My first real filming in the "field" so it was great to start with such a colour explosion. Designer Arif Tuep Artwo collaborated with komuniti/community Duta Seni dan Misi Kebudayaan Boyolali. Beautiful girls wore dresses in layers of woven fabric with on the edges a part Batik. I was in luck being early to document, because when the first girls were ready, the photographers started to flock like bees to honey. They asked the girls to pose, asked the dressers to move in the light and so on. It made it clear to me that whatever I film during this journey, I need to keep it real. Real in a philosophical way, but also real as how it is happening before me. I have to find the images, not create them. An overall useful experience!

September 17, 2016

Hello Bandung

Old trains used as housing

Photo of Rumah Ebo and traveltip from me, take picture of where you're staying, so you will find your way back

After a train ride through impressive landscapes I arrived in Bandung. It was raining again very hard, so I hope this won't become a trend for my ongoing travels.
I had booked a room at Rumah Ebo, a small guest house with a beautiful garden and limited luxury. A big adjustment from the POP! Hotel, but a very welcome one. 
After a short night rest, I went to 'Spatial',  a factory building which is turned into creative office spaces for fashion. I was off to meet Muhamed Lukman, Chief Design Officer of Batik Fractal.
I was so happy Batik Fractal wanted to be part of my project. I asked to learn more about JBatik and after an introduction on the software, I gave it a go myself. The program is surprisingly easy to use and I think it can be very handy for Batik makers ones there designs are in the database. 
The patterns I played with had for me the specific Batik Fractal feel. Of course when the design is made into a actual Batik Tulis, the handwriting of the pembatik will be more clearer. 
The software, originally made to design architecture and ornaments on buildings, works with 'fractal'. Codes to change, double, multiply, rotate or twike patterns. A pattern can easy be changed by just changing colour or by creating a totally new layout. It is a quick and modern way of making designs and allows you to create again and again. 
What I think I like the best is that Batik Fractal inspires a new generation to work with Batik. Batik makers that follow the workshops usually take someone of a younger generation with them to help with the "computer stuff". Also designers and other more computer orientated creative people use JBatik and get inspired to create actual Batik. It's a stepping stone that can make a better future for Batik Tulis.
Batik Fractal started in 2007. Their first designs were printed as textiles and later Batik cap design were added. Today they ask Batik artisan that use their JBatik software to sell some of their products through their webshop (see #madewithJBatik on their website Of every Batik Tulis, information can be found like who made it and sometimes some "making of" pictures are included. 
A few of these Batiks where in the office and Muhamed asked if I wanted to document them somewhere in the building or garden. I took the opportunity after a short break eating pancakes in a hipster cafe and before the rains start. Apparently in Bandung it always rains in the afternoon. 
The outside was beautiful with plants in recycled cans, the railway track and other factory metal rusted to orange and chicken running around. Great place for a photo shoot and Batik Fractal made a good choose moving. They just unpacked two months ago, so for once I'm very uptodate!

Learning JBatik

Batik Tulis made with JBatik

While I was taking pictures, Muhamed worked further on my try-out to make an actual Batik design from it. For me it is wonderful to spend a day being creative and it is so great I had such a day already in Bandung!
Returning to the office Muhamed created really fast a very nice design. 
The plan now is to let this design be made in Solo at one of the artisan Batik Fractal works more often with. In this way I captured the 'making of' and end result of one design. I hope I can film while the Batik is dyed, cooked & hanging to dry! 
But anyway, I'm already happy with the time spend at Batik Fractal. It is so wonderful to be able to ask everything I wanted to know, share ideas about Batik & the future of this heritage and just meet the creative mind behind Batik Fractal.

Keep up the good work! And hope to meet again soon!

I also got a lot of tips how I should spend my next day in Bandung. First day out really as a tourist alone. Made me a bit nervous, but I relax better doing things. I started with a visit to Hasan Batik, a studio focussed on making home decorations with Batik cap for the Japanese market. I was shown around by Nia, Ibu Hasan Batik. She was very kind and even let her workers hang a huge Batik so I could take pictures. Their Batik Cap is a 'tampal', patchwork design. They play in the design with lighter parts to create a 3D effect. 
Nia's sister also creates Batik Cap, but specializes in designing clothing for children. She makes designs with smaller sized classical patterns, but also with cars and cowboys. Very cute stuff!
I fell a bit silly buying only a little table runner, but my focus is on Tulis, but I wanted to support her and her sisters efforts. Batik Cap is still 1000 times better then printed textile!

Nia asked me my plan, so I explained it was walking to the other well known Batik studio. Right away she asked one of her workers to take me per scooter. I will never get my 30 minutes of exercise here... it was up hill, down hill and we arrived at Rumah Komar Batik. Their Batik workshop was kinda closed due to the holiday, but I could still take a look. First thing I was shown was a printed Batik. It didn't say anything about it, but I'm surprised they even allow printed textiles in their shop. 
She noticed I responded better to cap & tulis, so she continued showing me betted & better pieces. 
Bandung doesn't have a Batik culture originally, so in a way it's difficult because you can't work within a tradition. At the same time it is freeing because you can design anything you want! Also a reason Batik Fractal is based here.
She continued showing me their cap motifs with "the bridge" (I haven't seen it myself) and 'angklung' (a bamboo musical instrument). Also a blouse designed by Mr. Komar with a fingerprint in bold colours. Apparently the blouse can be ordered custom design, so with your own fingerprint. Don't know if it is true, but the idea is brilliant!
In the workshop three girls were making a textile combining batik cap with Shibori. An interesting combination and it looked nice. How weird it is that Shibori is now a global trend! Can be Batik's turn after Wax print and Shibori?

New Batik Bandung by Rumah Komar Batik

Batik Cap & Shibori

The afternoon was spent with more touristic things. After visiting the Museum Geologi, which I really liked! I went to see 'Jalan Braga' or "Braga Street". A must visit and for me a confronting one. I was told to go for "Dutch desserts", so I jumped in the first place I spotted, because it started to rain. 'Het Snoephuis' is located in this huge, empty space. From the ceiling a very big and smaller Art Nouveau lamps hang which don't work (I asked). The edges in the building are typical for 1920s and you can imagine the matching furniture back in the day. Also the matching "high life" that went along with it. I never felt so sad while eating pie. 
I was happy when I reached the end of the street and had a chat with a taksi driver. He was complaining that Uber & Grab makes it hard for him and he didn't own a car himself. He was pointing to buildings across from us, saying: "very old, very nice building here". I was happy to hear that it is appreciated for its architecture and I was happy to pay a bit more for a ride back to the guest house.

September 14, 2016

Selemat Pejalan

Museum Tekstil

My 5 days in Jakarta went fast. I don't care much for the city Jakarta, but I'm very happy and lucky with the people I could meet during my stay. I was so lucky with my first two days spending time with a big Batik fan like me. Jennifer has great ideas for the future of Batik. And I think with her spirit and modern take on Batik she will help the Batik industry a great deal! Can't wait to meet with her again and share thoughts on how the help Batik Tulis!
Who I also met and who really helped me to get my mind clear for this project is Krisna Murti. I know him for 7 years, since I start preparing for my first journey to Batik in 2009, but we never met in person. When I arrived at his home it was like we saw each other the day before. It is so strange and normal at ones. Glad to have met this inspiring video artist and see some of his works with personal explanation by him. It helped me a lot to share my plan with him and I'm very happy with his feedback and support! Such an honor to have this support, thank you Krisna!
Yesterday I went to an opening at the Erasmus Huis. My friend Arjan Onderdenwijngaard joined me and it was so nice to see him & enjoy Art with him. I was really impressed by the exhibition by Trisna Sanjaya. It is so surprising to be in a place where my kind of work and work I love is normal. Temporary art, performances, rituals, nature, addressing waste & the environment, combining tradition with dance, visual art and music! All together, mixed and enjoyed here!
To my second surprise Pak Kwan Hwie Liong arrived in Jakarta and we met that very evening. It was so nice sharing Batik theories in person. I met Pak William only once before, but again it was so normal to meet for drinks, like I'm seeing a friend in the Netherlands.
And last but not least, my Grab taksi driver. After having a really unpleasant ride with Express, I went back from the Museum Tekstil with Grab (an app to book a ride). The driver started with the for me traditional "No good english". Well here no good English means good English! I had such a nice chat with him, when he told me he lives in East Jakarta I asked him to be my ride for the next day. I was in luck to have him as my driver 3 times and hope when I return to Jakarta that I meet him again.

Happy in the taksi

Pembatik at Museum Tekstil

Museum Tekstil

While I'm writing this post in the train to Bandung an changing landscape glides by. The city with his backdoors, clothing hanging to dry, waste piles, the first sawahs, chicken, banana trees, ducks, more green and people waving at the train passing by.
After my first day meeting Jennifer, we met each other the next day at Museum Tekstil. Museum Tekstil is located in several colonial style buildings with a garden that is a Natural Dye garden/Taman Pewarna Alam.
Signs explain the plant name, what part is used and the colour it makes, for example: "Mahoni, Swietenia mahagoni jaca, batangsi/stem/bark, Collat/brown". In the border the cotton seeds was ripe and the white fluff was sticking out. Several huge butterflies circled around me, no picture yet, but I hope soon!
You can't visit the museum without making Batik yourself. Jennifer brought some of the Batik from Jeruk so I could take pictures of them and we used one of them to copy a part of the design. Remember if you do make Batik at the museum that you will be working next to a real pembatik! You can appreciate even more after putting the hot wax on cotton, how hard it is to make the lines and dots. So many factors need to be accounted for: the temperature of the wax, the finest of the cloth, the direction of the design and which colour will be put on first.

The museum has a nice collection of "newer" Batiks and if you want to learn more about different patterns or styles from different regions, it is a good way of getting introduced.

Erasmus Huis 

On Sunday as I mentioned in the intro, I went to the Erasmus Huis. Visiting them was on my wish list a long time and I was lucky that I was just in Jakarta when their new exhibition opened. 
The opening performance of Trisna was just wauw! In his work he wants to address people's use or better miss-use of nature. He uses found waste, traditional rituals, music and dance and everyday objects to share his thoughts. He makes art, but it is also a way of making protest. He works a lot with Doekoen's. A Doekoen is a traditional medicine man. They heal both body & mind and have a lot of ways of doing this.
For this specific performance his favourite collaboration Doekoen was wearing a kind of waste monster made from plastic bottles. See little clip on my Instagram. The performance continued inside, making the visitors go in like a kind of parade. Three people were laying on a blank canvas. The parade circled around the canvas chanting, singing, dancing and throwing spices. The people and canvas got covered, creating a portrait. The smell of the spices was pretty strong so everyone was sneezing and crying at one point. After a long loop of walking, dancing, adding more spices, the persons on the canvas stand up and joined the parade. 
I enjoyed it very much and I can advice everyone in Jakarta to go and see this exhibition!

Thanks for following my journey to Batik!
And till the next update!

September 8, 2016

First day

Tuesday my journey to Batik started, but I can better say it started today with a nice meet with a big Batik fan & supporter, Jennifer Wanardi from Redaya Batik.

I arrived Wednesday after a long flight, you always forget how boring you get on planes. I couldn't sleep so started watching a lot of movies during which I fell asleep, haha. And three meals, pfff I'm still stuffed. But the flight was good and on time.
In Jakarta I brought Dutch weather with me because it was raining cats and dogs. I had someone to pick me up who didn't want me to run through the rain to get to the car. After a while the rain didn't get less, so I said: I don't minded, lets run! So we did and it was not so bad.
After what is consider a short ride in Jakarta, I arrived at the POP! Hotel Kemang. A popular brand of hotels that are focussed on being green. They have trash bins to separate paper, plastic and waste. In my room I have to put my card into a slot to access electricity, so no unnecessary burning lights in empty hotel rooms! Should be great everywhere! Less sustainable is that the tv also switches on every time I put the card in and that there is music playing loudly in the hallway. So some improvements to be made, but happy to be so far away from home and still can be a little sustainable after my flight...

After a good night sleep, I wake up this morning without a clue for a plan.  I was very happy when I got a WhatsApp from Jennifer that she had time to meet me that afternoon.
I used the morning to relax and around noon Jennifer was waiting for me in hotel lobby wearing a beautiful yellow with green shirt made from Batik Lasem.
We went for lunch about hundred meters from my hotel. She brought an amazing collection of her Redaya Batik stock, so I could pick fabric for a dress & skirt by her design. It was good to see Batiks from Jeruk, the village I visited in October 2009. The talented Batik makers Ibu Maryati, who made my pagi-sore design 'Moeilijke tijd' and Ibu Ramini, leader of Kelompok Usaha Bersama Srikandi Jeruk, have grown in skill and boldness. The Batiks have a modern feel with patterns that seem to grow over the fabric. They don't use the classic bordering, it is made with a more free set up. A colour combination they now frequently use has a blueish green/aqua pattern on a dark, reddish, purple brown. It makes the blue colour really pop out. Jennifer asked me what my favourite colour was, so she could make a selection. I answered "aqua blue (all blue/green colours) and purple". How they know me in Jeruk!

Jennifer brought also examples of Batik with a white background. These Batiks are really hard to make. Large parts need to be covered with wax and it is hard to make a clear white background without craquelé. I found it interesting with these examples of Batiks how technique can be interpreted so differently around the world. In Indonesia the crackles on Batik need be kept to a bare minimum. A cloth with to much crackle will be considered as bad production. In the Netherlands and more places in Europe a Batik will not be recognised as a quality piece without the crackles. People associate the craquelé with craft. That it shows that it is handmade. But if you see these Batiks, you will see the refinement of the hand that has drawn the patterns with hot wax. The quality of the lines is that they have no edges, like they are rounded off. They dissolve in the background, yet the form a clear border between the different colours.

I picked two Batiks that are made into clothing for me, but most of the cloths I wouldn't dare to cut up. In Jeruk they produce two types of Batik. A faster drawn one on a normal (still very thin and soft) cotton and one really draw refined with a thinner canting pen on both normal and high quality cotton.

The Batiks were with Tiga Negri with a nice yellow instead of the traditional brown, Lasem red on a dark blue;  Pagi-Sore in the beautiful colour combination I described in this post with a mixture of birds and kraton patterns and a mint coloured 'Flower Universe'.
I will visit Jeruk and surely buy some nice pieces there, but dear reader, if you see any Batiks in this post you would like to own, just send me an email or WhatsApp!
Selemat Malam!

Till the next journey to Batik update!

August 21, 2016

The journey to Batik - introducing Joko Supriyono

This week I picked up my visa and it looks like my list of things to prepare is getting shorter. My time before leaving is also getting shorter fast and I feel there were so many more things I could have prepare, but I need to keep space in my plans (also the ones in my head) for change, the unexpected and what ever comes on my path. 
A way of working and thinking unknown here, but practiced in perfection where I'm going, so I guess it will work out fine.
For this post I'm happy to introduce a person I'm really really really looking forward to meet. He is married to one of the sweetest, coolest, dearest, most beautiful person I know and he is a talented painter and tattoo-artist. Looking forward sharing with him thoughts about how the artworld and tattoo-scene gets inspired by Batik and how he uses it in his own art. Also I hope to return with a freshly inked piece by him that will be part of my second 'Journey to Batik'. 
Without further ado, let me introduce: Joko Supriyono!

A photo posted by Jekektatto (@jekekyoungjava) on

When did you start making art and tattoos?

Started with tattooing when I was still in school. I was 15 when I made my first drawings on the chairs at my high school. I was already interested in the visual aspects of tattoo's before that, but my family situation made me become a tattoo-artist. 
My first exhibition as an artist was when I was 17 at the Gallery of University Purworjo. I studied art at the Akseri high school for Art and started with the ISI (Art Academy) in Yogyakarta. I couldn't finish it, because I had to take care of my family after both my parents died.

Painting by Joko Supriyono

What inspires you?

I started to paint and draw when I was a child. Figures are important in my work. For my tattoo's I always exploring deep into my mind. I use what I see there. In the world of painting I am not only thinking about freedom. I do like to put into my paintings everything I feel and do: my hiding, happiness, sadness, laughing, everything of life. What I see in myself, I use as an inspiration. It's like looking in the mirror, it makes me learn about myself, about honesty.
One thing I have in mind everyday are airplanes. They bring me lighter thoughts. (I love to Joko's favorite Batik motif is Megamengdun, clouds and airplanes, a perfect combination!)

Painting by Joko

Drawing by Joko

What is your favorite Batik pattern? Why do you wear Batik?

Batik Megamengdung from Cirebon. I like it very much, I'm a big fan of this art-work. For me the 'Megamendung' pattern is like a big cloud heavy above our heads. Since I was little this ornament was many time on my mind, because life in Indonesia can be hard and it made me think of the/my sweat of labor. 
Wearing Batik makes me happy! When I wear Batik it feels good in my brain I feel light. The composition, the lining brings structure. I like contemporary and classic Batik with a combination of colors; especially turquoise, red, black, brown, yellow and gold.

Batik Megamendung

Blouses with Batik Megamendung motif

Batik Megamengdung is next to the 'Parang' motif one of the most recognizable and maybe well-known Batik patterns of Java. When I first saw this pattern, I was really surprised that it was a classic motif. I saw a man at a Pasar Malam and ask him about his modern Batik blouse. He laughed and said it was a traditional pattern rom Cirebon. The big, bright coloured, abstract clouds covering the textile looked like nothing I seen before. 
Of course the cloud shape itself I seen many times, in many cultures and art forms. In Tibetan sand carpets, Mongolian cabinets, Chinese silk and porcelain.The motif is linked to Taoism and the Islamic Sufi in which clouds symbolize the ability to make a comprehensive picture of the world (a birds-eye view), be free and are transcendental.
Cirebon's port Muara Jati brought in many cultures and religions among which were also people from China. 
Believed is that the very modern looking pattern was introduced in the 16th century when Sunan Gunungjati (1448–1568) married Queen Ong Tien of China. Sunan Gunungjati, who spread the Islamic religion in the Cirebon region, founded the Sultanate of Banten, as well as the Sultanate of Cirebon. It is popular in Indonesia to link the origin of a pattern to royalty, so it is no surprise that it is the same with Batik Megamengdung. 
'Megamengdung' literally means mega cloudy. Big clouds filled with rain bring water for the crops and therefor symbolize fertility and the sprouting of life. 
A beautiful symbol that can be interpreted in many ways and I think, is very fitting for a city in which a harbor was so important. Like clouds from the sea bringing the wanted rain, ships brought goods, knowledge and inspiring cultures.

Drawing inspired by Batik by Joko Supriyono

Joko Supriyono with his work

Read & see more: 

More about Joko's tattoo's on Jekekyoungjava on Instagram

More about Batik Megamendung on Wikipedia and on

More about my second 'Journey to Batik' in the previous posts 'Buy a Batik', 'Rasa Nembah', 'The journey to Batik', 'The journey to Batik - Introducing Krisna Murti' and 'The journey to Batik - Introducing Batik Fractal'