(Watch the episode of Artistic Journeys, Batik here)
For the longest time I’ve been happy behind the camera – doing styling, make-up and the works. So my first time in front of the camera proper was definitely an interesting and fun experience. And not to forget, totally nerve-wrecking due to the need to speak in Mandarin THE WHOLE TIME. (In the past, most of my Chinese was limited to the ordering of food.)
I was first contacted by the casting director, Joscylnne, on my interest on being on the show. To be honest, being on TV and speaking Chinese wasn’t a huge draw for me but the opportunity to fly to Indonesia to learn Batik certainly was! After a few rounds of meeting with the director Eric from filmat36, approval was given by the station and team and work commenced.
In my designs, I wanted to capture the beauty and history of Batik while fusing it with modern aesthetics. After reading up on Batik (the library provided more info than the internet this time), I decided to focus on the Sawat for some of the pieces.
Sawat or “large wings”, represents the garuda which according to legend was a birdlike creature with the body and limbs of a man and the beak and talons of an eagle. In the past, this was a sacred motif that only royalty could wear and not the common people. If I were producing these clothes to sell, I would definitely put the history and meaning of the motif on the hangtag so everyone could learn more about the design and culture. Super interesting!
This was my drawing of the Sawat motif by hand, scanned and digitally coloured with a modern and fun palette:
The next was my interpretation of the lotus motif which was to be used as a large Batik design as well as a smaller Batik collar piece:
The production house wanted casual designs that were a bit friendlier to the masses so I decided to go with ready-to-wear designs for the initial proposal. Here’s a peek at some of them incorporating the two motifs: