Contributed by Victoria Walker
Faculty and fashion design students from AOD recently had the opportunity to participate in workshops run by some of the best modern proponents of fine hand-produced Indonesian batik during the visit to Colombo by experts from award-winning Galeri Batik Jawa.
Led by Dr Laretna Adishakti, the Galeri team shared their experience of conserving and promoting Java’s batik heritage while innovating processes and design for a modern audience. Participants also had the chance to test the techniques themselves.
Textile historian largely agree that batik reached its highest artistic expression on the Indonesian island of Java in the 13thcentury. It was then scattered to the rest of the world – although when was first practiced in Sri Lanka remains unclear.
Batik, a wax-resist technique of textile design, offers great possibilities for artistic expression as patterns are applied by drawing or stamping with wax (rather weaving).
AOD workshop participants were particularly struck by the Indonesian experts’ focus on environmental sustainability. In particular, they use 100% natural indigo dye in their designs, which is a painstaking process using leaves of the locally grown Indigofera tinctoria.
Sri Lanka has its own rich batik traditions. In the 1960s and 70s, Sri Lankan batik flourished, with extraordinary artists such as Ena de Silva and Swanee Jayawardene attracting widespread acclaim. Batik has undergone another renaissaince over the past decade or so with talented Sri Lankan designers, including AOD alumni, developing their own batik palette and style with a uniquely Sri Lankan feel.
AOD would like to thank the Embassy of Indonesia for facilitating this valuable exchange.