Thursday, December 3, 2009

Batik of Java: poetics and politics

At last I am back to publish a new post- much has been progressed with the exhibition.  On Saturday 14 November we hosted a lunch for all those involved directly in the project.  This enabled the curator, Dr Maria Friend to meet with contemporary artist Dadang Christanto; arts writer Yuliana Kusumastuti (Nana); gallery director representing Dadang's work, Jan Manton and Trevor; the Director of the organising gallery, John Waldron; the tour manager, Nina Shadforth and the collectors, Greg Roberts and Ian Reed.  Four hours later much had been discussed and the project is flying.

Post lunch and on into the night Maria one-by-one unrolled each batik in order to make notes and as a result of holding and seeing the collection first hand, made adjustments to the grouping of the batiks for the exhibition's layout.  On the Wednesday before the lunch, an initial layout was developed by Maria at the Caloundra Regional Art Gallery.  This process was wonderful to observe.  Also discussions took place regarding the hanging support system for the batiks and the format the catalogue may take.  Nina's outstanding organisation made this day a great success.


This fine, high quality skirt cloth [kain panjang] from Lasem was produced by entrepreneurs of Chinese descent and executed by the very best batikers.  It is a late 19th/early 20th century art work.

Kain panjangs with differently coloured tumpal at each end and borders on each side were favourites in Jambi, Sumatra.  The tumpal on one end is dark, for use in the evenings and the other end is bright for use during the day.  The tumpal or head on Lasem batik is usually in the form of the Pucuk Rebung (bamboo shoot), in the form of a row of triangles filled in with several different Chinese motifs such as banji, kilin, phoenix and butterflies.  The borders (pinggir), are rich in decorative details.  These minor decorations of small fauna and flora motifs and isen add value to the batik, enhancing its price.

The deminsions of this kain panjang is 107.5 x 279.0 cm.

Apology: in my second blog I indicated the age of the kain panjang pagi sore from Pekalongan, Java, as early 20th century when it should have been 1940s.


Monday, November 2, 2009

Batik of Java: poetics and politics


Over the coming Blogs I will share with you some of our favourite batik art works.

This is one of our favorite cloths from our collection.  Batik from Lasem is characterised by its intense red on an ivory or yellowish-white background.  This combination of colours became known as bangbangan.  We really enjoy the boldness of the motif and the sense of spirit and movement the work possesses.  It has a strong sense of youthful vitality. 

It is dyed with natural dye-stuffs such as mengkuduMengkudu is the red dye obtained from the roots of the mengkudu shrub (morinda citrifolia).  It is the source of the bright red colour found on pasisir batik.  Red is the colour associated with youth and fertility and would have probably have been worn by unmarried girls.  This colour combination was also associated with the wedding ceremony. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2009




This outstanding early 20th century batik from Pekalongan has been choosen as the lead image for the exhibition, Batik of Java:poetics and politics

The exhibition team are making great progress as we work towards the official opening on 10 July 2010 at the Caloundra Regional Gallery.  In mid November, the curator Dr Maria Friend will be making her final selection of batik works from our Collection, for the exhibition.

We will share images of these beautiful batik with you over the coming months.

Batik truly is the sacred cloth of Java.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Batik of Java: poetics and politics

UNESCO has recognised Javanese batik as an item of
Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity- what wonderful news this is.

To celebrate this recognition, the Caloundra and Noosa Regional Art Galleries, Queensland, Australia, in 2010 will present an exhibition,
Batik of Java: poetics and politics, that explores the links between a selection of batik from the North Coast of Java and paintings from
Dadang Christano's 2008 Brisbane exhibition, Batik Has Been Burnt. The batik will come from my and my partner's private collection and Dadang's work is represented by Jan Manton Art, Brisbane.

The curator of the exhibition is Dr Maria Friend, an internationally respected specialist on Indonesian textiles.

I will keep you posted.