December 4, 2012

You Make Me Wanna *

'Happy Family' by Vlisco

My first love was patterns. This love was best shared in Batik. When in 2009 I received a grant to learn about and develop my love for patterns, I focused on Javanese Batik. At first I tried to learn about the classic patterns and motifs, but it was a difficult language to read without help. The Batiks made during the period of 1850 till 1950 started to caught my eye. They were more simplified, more cartoonish. Big vases full of flowers surrounded by butterflies, little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella and her prince charming. Playing cards, dices and lucky clovers. Symbols I understood and could read. Maybe more common, but more accessible for me.
By reading and learning about Batik Belanda I hoped to learn more about the classic, original Batiks.
I did, but I also started to learn about our colonial history. And how Dutch traditions and folk art are maybe more exotic than we want to think.
The stories about the Batik entrepreneurs in Pekalongan inspired me. Strong, independent women running a business in a man's world. A world I want to learn more, everything about. Buying books, googling away, following the VOC paths of trade I somehow landed on the Gold Coast.
Dutch printed cloths based on Javanese Batiks found a market there. The base for Vlisco was born. New patterns were made, filling in the costumers demand. The African Batiks have the same quality in story telling for me as Batik Belanda. They don't wear Batik with some hidden message, they are giving a statement.

Reading about this I came up with the idea to call the Fashion Batik Photo's 'Batik Statements'. This passed week many lovely 'Batik Statements' I made at the WinterFashionFair at Taman Indonesia I posted on this blog (and some more to come).

My love for Batik is only getting stronger and with it I discover new kinds of Batiks as I research and read. My love for Javanese Batik will never go away, but a new love for African Batik is developing as well. Also the strong way Vlisco promotes and share there products is very inspiring and I think all Batikmakers can learn a great deal by watching and following Vlisco's campaigns.

One of their promo campaigns was that you receive a special Java print calender with your purchase. I'm a sucker for these kinds of things. So I ordered my first real full yards Vlisco 'Happy Family'!
Book 'Textielwaren' with Vlisco samples from 1941 found in secondhand shop on Java print calender 2013 by Vlisco

Today I discovered there website Share the stories behind the fabrics. A site were you can upload your story behind the pattern. Read and enjoy! And don't forget to add your story (and share it with me ofcourse).

A must see and must visit exhibition (I'm going next week, jippie!) 'Hollandaise' at SMBA in Amsterdam is till 6 of January 2013:
"HOLLANDAISE is a critical, contemporary art exhibition built around this typical textile. The idea for the exhibition is from curator Koyo Kouoh, who is director of her own art institution in Dakar, Senegal. She asked five artists to delve into the phenomenon of Hollandaise and the peculiar trading relations and cultural interchanges that it represents. They all produced new work especially for this exhibition, which after Amsterdam will travel on to Dakar.

Growing up in Africa, Kouoh became fascinated by Hollandaise. The exuberantly decorated textiles are used chiefly for clothing for special occasions, such as weddings and funerals. Some patterns are therefore emotionally identified with specific events in one's own life history. But despite the success of Hollandaise on the African market and its strong identification as African, Africans themselves are hardly involved in the creative process for ‘their’ fabric at all. Furthermore, today the Dutch market leader is encountering heavy competition from the Far East. Yesterday's imitator is being imitated in turn.

The exhibition HOLLANDAISE is a creative and also critical examination of such historical, global developments and their local implications."
Aynouk Tan wearing Vlisco. She was wearing this creation at the opening of SMBA's 'Hollandaise'

* Titel post inspired by Usher's song 'You Make Me Wanna'


  1. cool cool cool! the more i read here the more i realize that there is a whole world of batik out there!