March 1, 2017

Textile Manufacturing

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Factory set up in the exhibition 'Vlisco 1:1 Un à Un' at Museum Helmond*****

Waking up with a buzzed feeling from yesterday, images of bright colours spinning around in factories inspired me to write this post. I have actually no time for it now, but I just have to share it. So it will be short.
The images that woke me up so inspired are by photographer Christopher Payne. They show worn down machines being taken over by bright coloured dust, yarns, threads and cloths. Beautiful and for me shocking at once. Our never stopping need for producing new clothing. An industry why things as fashionblogs and their bloggers, catwalks, malls, models and a never stopping pile of waste exist.  The photos show also a different story. The one of the growing interest in where are stuff is coming from. And specifically with clothing and their textiles where and how it is made.

Photos from 'Textiles' by Christopher Payne*

It reminded me of a recent photoshoot I spotted on Instagram. I missed the fashion show and I had not heard of her before, but now she is definitely here: Liselore Frowijn.*** A Dutch fashion designer who collaborated with Vlisco for her latest collection and in the proces collaborated her way through the launch of this collection. Teeth grinding good and it makes me feel old, haha. Anyway, for the photoshoot of her collection she worked with visual artist Olya Oleinic. She took photos in the Vlisco factory and that was for me a nice surprise. Vlisco is very secretive about their factory and normally no photos are allowed. Okay, the gritty photos maybe don't reveal much of new collections, but still.

‘In bringing the factory to the runway, my team and I feel more responsible about our client. We have never felt so connected to the shifting needs and expectations of today’s consumer’
- Liselore Frowijn

In Museum Helmond is now a (small) overview exhibition about Vlisco. Next week is the last week already. They show the history of Vlisco, how it is made (see Boomerang at the beginning of this post) and how it is used. It is a bright feast of patterns and gives a nice introduction on Wax prints. 
I really loved the entrance set-up that was made like a machine and showed with videoprojections how a Vlisco fabric is born. A unique inside considering normally no photos or films are made. # The exhibition is till 12 March so make sure to visit it!

Limited edition Vlisco Wax Print to celebrate 170 years Vlisco

I like to end this post with the upcoming Fashion Revolution Week, 24 until 30 April 2017.  I think it is great we get more inside in what happens in Western textile factories and more fashionlabels follow a more sustainable path. But we still have a long way to go, so think about #whomadeyourclothes and how you wish your cloths were made or how you are going to make them.
And I hope this post inspires you to do so!

More info on:

* and photos of Christopher Payne's Textiles on

** 'A mesmerizing look inside Americas textile factories and mills' Article about Christopher Payne's photo serie

*** 'Liselore Frowijn presents #TheNewCluster in collaboration with Vlisco'

****'See now, buy now' #TheNewCluster online

*****'Vlisco 1:1 Un à Un' exhibition in Museum Helmond

# 'The best kind of prize is a *sur*prise!'  Blogpost about my visit to the Vlisco factory 

February 27, 2017

Let Me Introduce Panivalkova

Apparently their video already went viral last November, but I just seen it now. I'm not soon captivated by something that fast. I do like and share a lot of things perhaps on my social media, but to consider it for a blogpost is something different.
When I saw the video 'Let me' by Panivalkova, I was struck by their modern yet totally classic interpretation on traditional costumes from East Europe. I also was surprised to find out this lovely, strong women are from Ukraine. Not really a place right now where you expect this kind of news to come from.
After looking at more video's, I came to to conclusion these ladies have an interesting taste, humor and are really beautiful without tapping on all kinds of 'western' beauty standards. The fact that a video goes viral with them in traditional wear, is for me a way our world is also heading. The one where more people are interesting in different cultures, the one where people are looking for a better way of sharing this planet.
Of course their wonderful headwraps play in with the popularity of their video. Wrapped in layers of colourful textiles that are slowly been removed through out the video without making making it sexual, but making them fragile and strong. The song itself is lyric-wise simple, but I suspect this ladies to have stronger opinions then their first English hit leads on.

A post shared by panivalkova (@panivalkova) on

Looking forward to see, hear and know more about them!

Read a little more about them in 'Panivalkova is rising star in Ukraine’s underground music'

February 15, 2017

Kwatta Girl

Batik Statement Stage

Banners with my 'We Can Do It'-Statement

During the Culture Night on 27 January 2017 in Breda (NL) I made live Batik Statements*. I did projects with my Batik Statements before, fashionshows and photoshoots**, but I never created them on stage.
I was invited for this event with the title 'Colourful Women Power'. The event organised by IDFX used one of my Batik Statements for their communication. My 'We Can Do It' Statement*** was on flyers, posters and even on banners at the door. Strange and complimentary to see a photo of yourself used to make a statement again.
The event was to show different crafts done by women that were a bit out of the box. There was a lady making jewellery from bones, ladies who brew their own beer named "pussybeer" ("Kutbier" in Dutch) or with chocolate flavor and ladies making soap from leather.
Next to the newer crafts, there was also a more historical view of women on the labor market. This was were my statements came in.
With two different 'performances' I showed life of the factory girls from the chocolate factory Kwatta (in Breda, NL). These girls that were the first women in the Netherlands to start working in factories around 1920s.
This is seen today as an empowering event, but was at that time seen in a different light. A priest started an organisation run by women to help factory girls. These 'catechists' were mostly young women who wanted to help from a Catholic ideology without becoming an actual nun. The 'catechists' went to factories to teach the girls Catholic values by combining it with practical knowledge. They used the girls break-time, which the girls would normally skip because you got paid by piece and not by the hour. In the break-time they teach table manners and later the 'catechist' gave all sorts of courses learning meanly to run a household. The factory girls maybe didn't need protection or being saved, but the 'catechists' were in a way empowering themselves. They could teach, work in society, be part of it, instead of the monastic lifestyle that would have been the normal path for them.
I was lucky to have the wonderful Steph Byrne as my model. She bravely ate sandwiches with chocolate spread in front of a crowd with knife and fork. Together we showed factory life vs running a household in an ironic iron loop.
It was a lovely experience and happy to share it here with you, enjoy the photos!

#foodie is the new prayer


Assembly line****


* See more 'Batik Statements
** I did two 'Batik Statement Fashionshows', one in 2013 and one in 2015 and  two 'Batik Statement Photoshoots'
*** My birthday BatikDay Statement 'We Can Do It!' from 2015 
**** Photos made by Surya de Wit, thanks!

January 24, 2017

Before Chicken*

Because I missed writing my "traditional" end of the year reflection post or the beginning of the year welcome post, I'm returning with a new post with a little later New Year. Welcome to the year of the Rooster, or is it going to be the year of the Cock....?
Last Chinese zodiac was a Monkey and in many ways it was a monkey year. Lets hope this years Zodiac represents more a wake up call then a headless Chicken year. That's how I try to see it at least. A Rooster waking use up at Sun rise and not one pecking at its harem.

Chicken on Batik from Madura, Indonesia, I bought in November 2016

Last year ended with a lot of grief. Knowing that good has to come with the bad, I had the feeling that losing my feathered friend would be enough pain for one year.**
Returning home from my three month journey on Java, there was little time to reflect or write, nor plan. I just got a package with the final piece of my journey to Batik. It was such a relief finally holding this Batik and also a sign for me that my project will be allright. I have plenty of time to make it and to make it gooooood. That is the most important thing.

Chicken on Batik from Batang by Mak Sium I bought in October 2016

According to the Chinese calendar, the year 2017 is the year of the Fire Rooster. The Chinese people say that this year people will be more polite and less stubborn, but they will have the tendency to complicate things. As Asian people see it, the year 2017 is a year dominated by the orientation towards progress, honor and maximum integrity, people learning to temper their ardor.***
Keep in mind that the passed Monkey year started also with a positive notion. I believe the year of the Rooster, or better Chicken****, can be the year where action is taken. Not by voting or protesting, but by looking at yourself and see what positive changes you can make in your daily life. This sounds vague maybe, but in a time were people think choosing the loudest person the represent them, I think it is very important to look at one's surrounding and see how to change it for themselves. This maybe sounds like individualistic behaviour, but I believe that living life as best as possible is a good inspiration.

Chicken on Batik from Jeruk by Ibu Maryati I bought in October 2016

Side note: I'm aware of the bubble I live in. I created my surroundings.
I'm not confronted with Wilders supporters nor any other extremist on a daily basis. Only through my left newspaper or through Facebook friends I hide instead of de-friend. I'm surprised that today in a world were everyone can be connected, we choose the make it smaller. I was surprised when I discovered there are people who don't believe in Climate Change and they can even live in the apartment above you. I'm surprised my parents read the most right wing newspaper of the Netherlands (I read the most left one I think...). I'm surprised to be asked here where I come from and then to be considered very Western abroad. I'm surprised about a lot of things, but mostly about how little people really take action and how many just share opinions, or follow someone who just shares his opinions.
So by taking action, I mean changing behaviour in your own life that has a positive influence on your surroundings. If you think you still have a positive influence by insulting people, making waste and being a cock then be my guest. If you have other ideas, please share them in a comment below and inspire others to do the same. Let's learn from the Rooster and start with a wake up call. If this for you is living a zero trash lifestyle, cool. If it is greeting everyone "Good morning", great. If it is getting up early and do some exercise, bravo. If it is supporting Arts, Crafts or Nature or just enjoying it, good for you! What ever it is, make sure that in times of need, need of love, trust, caring, you are there for the people around you. A good life is not a selfish life, and a good life is not al fun and rainbows.
Love to hear what you are up to this New Year and hope to see you again on my blog!

* 'Before Chicken' is part of an anecdote, which for me is part of a wonderful memory of my journey to Batik and is about trying to communicate what you want when you don't have the right words to do it with
** Post about 'My journey to Batik'  and missing Batik, my gelatik
*** Text from
**** The Chinese word for Rooster can better be translated as the more neutral 'fowl'. In Nepal the Zodiac of the fowl is replaced with a bird
***** Blogpost 'The chicken and the egg' about the meaning of chickens on textiles

December 1, 2016

Power post

Writing this while looking at my packed bag, sitting in the room that was my temporary home for 3 months. I can't believe how fast the time went and how many great experiences I had. My journey is not yet finished, but leaving this place tomorrow feels like a kind of ending. I waited so long to make this journey. I wished for so many things, but could not ever have imagined it would be like this. My journey to Batik was and is a journey of friends. Seeing friends again after so many years, sharing my experiences with friends overseas and missing. Missing people I just met, just saw or that I will never see again.
The last two weeks of my journey started with very sad news while I was seeing a very dear friend after 7 long years. There was more unhappy news from back home, so having at the same time these wonderful reunions made it tough sometimes. Still without all these dear people here it would have been a very different story. A what a story it is! I still have much to share and haven't shared here about Jember or Semarang yet, but I need some time to let it all sink in. And I'm still on Java!
I want to thank with this post all people that helped me during this journey. I feel so lucky meeting and knowing you! With this post I don't want to say "Good bye", but I like to say "See you soon" instead.
I also want to thank the people back home. Thanks for all the likes and comments. Thanks for following my journey! And keep following it!

After my return from Jember, I needed strength. I decided to make 'Batik Statements' representing some of my Super heroes. No not actual Super heroes. Although I still plan to make a statement with a cape one day, but I can not create more ghost stories in this village while I'm here... (Ask me about it when you see me).

Everyone needs a hero sometimes and "these" three ladies helped me many times through difficult times. So I hope they can do the same for my friends.
With their spirit and their Art they taught me about feeling pain, sadness and unhappiness. Taught me about empowerment, equality and love. And they taught me about sharing it.
I hope my heroes can give a little strength to the ones who need it right now!

November 25, 2016


Stasiun Tugu in Yogya

On the ferry to Madura

This passed week, 10 till 19 November, was about friends. Making new friends, visiting old friends and missing friends. Times are tough and I hope this post will offer some distraction. 
I'm writing this in the train from Jember to Yogya on Saturday the 19th of November after seeing my dear friend Denny again after 7 years. But first let me share "my trip" that was indeed "my adventure".
My visit to Madura was a seed planted many years ago. In 2009 I had a nice conversation with my hotel neighbor. It was on the my last days of my first journey and she told I should visit Madura next time.
About two years later Rusmilawati was studying in Leiden so we met again. She invited me to visit Madura again if I went to Indonesia. Preparing for this second journey, I of course contacted her.
Wien, as her friends call her, is now doing her PhD in Solo and is a lecturer at the University. 
On the beginning of my journey I met her in Solo at the Payung Festival (see blog post 'Yogya & Solo').
Our journey to Madura started on Thursday 10 November early morning by train to Surabaya. From there we would take the ferry.

Already in the train I noticed the landscape changing with more open spaces and hard working people. In Surabaya we got picked up by old students of Wien, now lawyers. We had lunch at, I think, a famous place 'Bu Rudy' and I was enjoying seeing a bit from this city from the car.
At the port we ran to catch the ferry, but missed it. Well we could have jumped for it, but I rather missed it this way.
Waiting for the ferry, I already spotted some nice traditional Madura Batiks being worn by the sellers of soda & snacks. 
On the ferry I felt so excited, I don't know what it is about going to islands, but it is such a great feeling of adventure. Of course Java is an island too and Madura is really, really big, but still.

It was the Lampion Festival that weekend, so the port was decorated with beautiful lanterns. Wien's father picked us up in his mini-van and I felt like entering a different world. I can't explain exactly what makes it so different, but don't believe the blablabla on Java.
Everything looks really pretty. All the public green in the more city area's are managed with real care. Amazing for this weather, I can not keep my garden so neath and we have like no Summer! We passed houses with bright colours and fields with trees very different from Java. I liked Madura instantly.

Made of bottles and plastic spoons

Peacock made of a tire & cd's

The next day I went with Wien to her campus. The highest building on Madura is on the campus of the university. How smart are these people! The world can learn something from this!
In the afternoon we headed towards to Lampion Festival. Unfortunately there was no program yet and rain started soon after our arrival. We walk around looking at the lanterns till the heavy rain made us look for shelter. One of Wien's friends just arrived when the rain start pouring down. It was strange and fun at once. The rain turned the festival terrain into a river, so the program for the evening got cancelled. When the rain didn't get less, Wien's brother kindly picked us up, saving us from a very wet motorcycle ride.


"Strawberry" design

Batik Tulis design should be two sided drawn with wax

On Saturday the friends with whom we hide from the rain, joined us in our journey to Batik. Because I don't know much about Batik from Madura I was very happy we got someone who arranged a meet with a Batik seller and maker. We headed towards Tanjung Bumi. A bumpy ride, but with great views over land and sea.
We first went to the Batik seller. To my surprise the Batiks were only draw on on one side. So only the front had a clear design. But I was pretty sure it is was not printed. I didn't know if this was something typical for Madura Batik or that there was something wrong, but I learned I should trust my knowledge about Batik more if I feel it is not right. I picked out some pieces with a more visible design on the back and asked for the prices. I thought they were a bit high for one sided Batik Tulis and I saw her quickly removing a price sticker of one of the Batiks I opened. I couldn't figure what was going on. We went to meet one of "her batikmakers. The batikmaker was a kind women, but I saw non of the batiks the seller sold back in her handwriting. She showed some finished pieces of which one had some elements I saw before. I had the feeling she was not the maker. 
I liked one design very much at the seller, a modern one with a motif of "strawberries", so I asked if she was the maker. I got from her a surprised face and later Wien told me the seller was urging us to go when I start asking more questions.
Back at the home of the seller, I did bought some of the neater made pieces batiks. I let her know before that I thought the prices were a bit high and she ended up raising them even more...
Feeling a bit distressed, our guide said softly when we were back in the van, yes its true, she raised the prices. At that point I  was just hoping I didn't buy fake batiks...
After seeing a new, yet still magical and my first mangrove ever, Wien showed the bought Batiks to a neighbor, her mother and brother. They actually said I made good chooses. They had no explanation about the back of the pieces, but said the process of the Batik was "unfinished". There is a slow, long process on Madura of keeping the batiks in clay to make the colours different and the fabric more soft. These batiks had some treatment, they have a kind of shimmery, but not the whole process was completed.
My own theory now about this seller is that she sells mistakes. So Batiks she can buy for a lower price because something in the process went wrong. I still think and hope it is actual Batik Tulis.

The actual "Strawberries" are I think a classic design based on a cactus fruit that is eaten on Madura

Batik at Tresna Art

Traditional breakfast in the garden of Tresna Art

On Sunday we went to another Batik place. A shop in Bangkalan of which I had no expectations being familiar with Batik shops in Yogyakarta. But Tresna Art is truly something else. In a beautiful building with batik makers at the entrance and all shorts of Maduran traditional things, I saw the true Madura batiks. Really detailed, very fine and very expensive. I regretted I spend my money already somewhere else...
Because it was Sunday there was even free traditional breakfast in the garden. The garden was wauw! With traditional buildings, bonsai's, cactuses and exotic birds. After the breakfast and lunch we were asked if we wanted to see the batikmaking. But of course!

Ibu Sofi

Ibu Sutyah

One of the batik makers stopped when we were watching and I wondered why. I asked some questions about the motifs and realized this pembatik had only one arm. Ibu Sofi told she started making batik from the age 10. We asked if she wanted to show us. Her work is really detailed and it is empowering she created this with only one hand. She uses her knee to put the fabric on. Normally the other hands guides the textile and keeps some distance between the hot wax and the skin. So a tough lady who makes the finest art!
The pembatik next to her, Ibu Sutyah, started asking Wien why I was on Madura, probably noticing my interest in Batik. She got really angry, or at least thats what Maduran sounds like to me, when Wien told her about our experience the day before. Apparently the seller we met is know for her too high prices and she said: Why you didn't come here first? She explained that the owner of Tresna Art is a true supporter of Batik and other traditions. She is fair to the batik makers and helps preserving the technique of the clay and other important things for Madura Batik. I was told people from Madura are known for their direct character and I believe she was not saying these things just to please the boss.
She said that next time I visit Madura, I first come to Tresna Art and she will be my guide to her village. A village were most people make Batik. She said "They are true and honest people and will show you the Art of Batik of Madura." I can't wait!!

Thank you Rusmilawati for inviting me to your wonderful home on this beautiful island. I hope I can explore more of Madura and its fascinating Batik culture in the future. Wonderful to meet your family and friends and so funny we are now on the same train!!

November 24, 2016

Go back and get it

Returning back to Yogya on Saturday 29 October was also the start of my last month on Java. I can't believe how fast the two months before passed. At the same time I can't believe how much I have done in these two months. 
Because the first two months of my journey almost ended, I needed to extend my visa for one more month. So three days were reserved for that, but happy to add 30 more days to my adventure.
My stay in Yogya made it possible to have some nice meets. 

Ine, a dear friend from the Netherlands, happened to be on Java. She invited me for a touristic day in Yogyakarta on Tuesday the 1st of November. 
I didn't had time for that before, so it was great to do some classic things. 
She invited me to Kota Gede. Kota Gede was where the first capital of Mataram Sultanate was established in the 16th century. By the mid-18th century, Mataram lost both power and territory to the Dutch East India Company. The neighborhood of Kota Gede nowadays includes the remains of the palace, the royal cemetery and the royal mosque. A labyrinth of entrances leads towards the royal cemetery and the bathing place. Along the way you see beautiful ornaments in the walls. I was looking for motifs found in Batik, but these motifs made me think of Adinkra symbols from Ghana instead. Looking them up now, they aren't actually similar, maybe in the abstract line, but not in design. Especially the one of the birds facing each other...In my memory there is a symbol like that, but I can only find the one with the bird turning her head to put an egg on her back: 'Sankofa'**. It symbolizes taking from the past what is good and bringing it into the present in order to make positive progress through the benevolent use of knowledge. 
Maybe it was not coincidence. Well probably not. The stay in Yogyakarta was marked by re-visiting and being confronted with the past. Not necessarily mine...

After Kota Gede we headed for the Kraton. I've been there before in 2009 (see post 'Sultan Palace') but only parts of it I recognized. It was much bigger then I remembered. There was a very nice exhibition with photos and Batiks that I liked better then the part you're not allowed to photograph. The photos from, I think, the seventies showed an insight of life in the Kraton. They reminded me of my grandfathers slides. The photos show certain rituals that reminded me of my own work. Some photos were combined with batiks showing which patterns are used for which specific ritual.

Sultan Hamengku Buwono X at the Big Mosque celebrating Sekaten by spreading udhik-udhik in the form of yellow rice, flowers and coins

Next stop was Fort Vredenburg. I never been there before and I couldn't recall the correct history, but when we got there I knew why I never been. I don't really like to go to these kind of places. I don't enjoy being there, and well, maybe that's the point. 
With dioramas important scenes from Javanese culture are re-told. The begin part I could handle pretty good, the last part not so good. The rooms seemed to get much colder the closer history got to today. The images became more gruesome. With a national song on a loop playing loudly in the last room, I felt already afraid to face every new scene. Arriving at the end of the hallway, I turned the corner and was confronted with a life size scene from the war or as we Dutch would say "de politionele acties'. It was just a flash and I was outside in a second catching my breath and swallowing my tears.
I think for people with a close connection to this part of our shared history, they can maybe better skip the last part of this exhibition, or be aware that it might be very unpleasant.

Diorama of first Indonesian women congress on 22 December 1928

The next day I was going to meet Annegret Haake and Hani Winotosastro again (see post 'Jogja International Batik Biennale'). Annegret, the German Batik lover and researcher, gave a lecture at Balai Besar Kerajinan dan Batik (The Center for Crafts and Batik) about 'Symmetry in traditional Javanese Batik patterns'. I never heard of this center before, but with this journey I'm surprised every time of what I know and of what I never heard of at the same time. 
The lecture reminded me of what makes me connect to Batik. It is creating balance without calculation. The more calculated a design is, the less I like it. 
After the lecture we headed to Batik Winotosastro in Hani's brilliant egg-yellow Daihatsu. Returning back to Jalan Tirtodipuran brought back many memories of my first journey to Batik. What a difference between the me now and then. I remember sitting trembling, only 3 days after my arrival, trying to make a small Batik at  'Batik Winotosastro'. My second return to this street was a much relaxer one. I met the batikmakers in Jeruk, my friend Barbara was soon going to join me and I felt more confident after my stay in Semarang. 
Now two months in my journey, 7 years and one month later, I could just enjoy looking around, listening to Annegret explaining about Winotosastro's legacy and be me.
The Batiks from these workshop are a bit to perfect for my taste. Really, the technique is so good, that it seems impossible to be made by human hands. 
After looking around at the workshop, me and Annegret went for lunch. We ended up at Tante Lies were I shared many nice talks and ice tea's with Denny & Barbara in 2009.
Nice to return to this starting point and I'm looking forward to meet Annegret in the near future nearer to my home to talk some more Batik!

On Tuesday 1 November the royal cemetery at Kota Gede was closed, so me and Barbara returned on Sunday 6 November to go inside. Just like at Imogiri you have to be dressed in Batik for this. It was very busy when we arrived, but we were alone when we got inside. I waited outside to give Barbara her space, enjoying the serene atmosphere of the place. Aldo Kota Gede is a very busy area, I heard only birds singing. The guard who accompanied us started sharing stories. New visitors arrived so we moved from sitting at the entrance to sitting behind a tomb. It was an interesting display and Barbara laughed when she came outside.

My stay in Yogya ended with Trump being elected. I picked up my passport the day before and was preparing for my journey to Madura from where I'm writing this post now. I followed the election step by step, thanks to the timezone I'm in, and it felt surreal seeing the number of votes for Trump growing and growing. Not that I would have been been happy if Hillary was elected. But still...

"Se wo were fi na wosankofa a yenkyi" **
We must go back to our roots in order to move forward. That is, we should reach back and gather the best of what our past has to teach us, so that we can achieve our full potential as we move forward. Whatever we have lost, forgotten, forgone or been stripped of, can be reclaimed, revived, preserved and perpetuated. What the future will bring, no one knows. But we know from our past which future we don't want. Still this man got elected... so... now what?