I am elated to receive this report. Its feedback from my students about my performance as an instructor at the National Institute of Education (NIE) conducting general elective batik. Its personal of course but I’m so proud of earning a 90.86 overall percentage score, I’m making it public. This is an impartial review of how I do things.
Community Batik is a communal art activity innovated by Singaporean artist Kamal Dollah in 2009 as a solution for engaging the public in a collective piece of art that also educates about the traditional art of batik. Batik originated in Java, Indonesia. It is utilised across the Malay world becoming an integral South East Asian cultural heritage. The term ‘Community Batik’ was coined by the directors of Playeum who commissioned this activity for their debut in ‘Big draw’ which is a global campaign for drawing originating in UK. It turned out to be a highly engaging activity that is simple, rewarding and brings people together. This was part of the array of activities presented by Playeum that won them the Barbara Whatmore Charitable Trust Awards 2009 – Winner award.
Today, Community Batik has become a popular activity at many levels, in schools, corporate functions, team-building activity and community events. Talk to us if you have any enquiry, Call 63443369.
The reach of Community Batik is not only limited in the local context. In 2011, Kamal was invited by the government of Namibia to participate in a cross-culture exchange and art education program, where he engaged schools and art communities across the country. Kamal was invited as a speaker and presented a paper to an international audience of batik practitioners on Community Batik as an outreach to educate the masses about batik at the Kuala Lumpur International Batik (KLIB) Convention and Exhibition 2011.
Community Batik involves a qualified batik artist and his team who sets up the necessary waxing equipments and a piece of cloth of any length depending on the number of participants or duration of the event. The artist and his team will either wax the cloth with batik design or give instruction to the participants and guide them to apply the wax. All other participants are then invited to fill in the colours. Colouring is simple and can be done by even pre-schoolers as well as senior citizens. The wax lines on the cloth forms a resist that holds the colour within the designs. The very essence of batik, a wax-resist painting technique. The activity typically lasts for three-hours. The activity is often described by participants as therapeutic and giving them a big sense of achievement for the individual and collectively.
Participants have the option of requesting the artist to fix the colour and remove the wax and then install it for display at their premise. This has transformed many work-place into vibrant spaces with a newly acquired art work that all could relate to with a strong sense of ownership.
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Community Batik embodies three elements: Art, Culture and Teamwork. It is facilitated by our trained staff who are batik artists knowledgeable in the craft of batik and mindful of every safety aspects of this activity. We do not advice you to do this on your own. The set-up can be customised according to the number of participants and duration of activity. Our standard engagement package is for 4 meter for a duration of 3-hours.
Plain cotton cloth is stretched out on a modular aluminum stretcher. The length of cloth varies according to the number of participants, and set-up is either done on-site or in our studio. The cloth will waxed on site as part of the activity. Sometimes, waxing may not be feasible on location, we would pre-wax the cloth as additional service. Participant may also try their hands at waxing guided by our artists. Colouring with dyes that is safe and easy, anyone can figure out what to do instantaneously.
The outcome of Community Batik relies very much on teamwork and interaction between the participants, and so each artwork is unique. Colour coordination and progression flow are not restricted. Thus, the end product is often free-form and retaining the essence of originality that comes from the collective efforts of the participants.
After the cloth is dried, it will be ironed and delivered to our client. Additional services are also provided for those who are keen on doing an installation.
Before the installation, the batik painting needs to be fixed in order to ensure that the dye is permanent. The dyed fabric is fixed with a chemical solvent and left untouched for a minimum of 3 hours. Afterwards, the cloth is washed and boiled. This entire process is called “Fixing” and is a time-consuming process that is manually carried out.
The last process is the installation of the batik. As illustrated in the image above, the batik that has already been fixed and ironed would then be stretched onto the wooden frame. Two different coatings of material are needed to protect the artwork as shown.
The installation is then completed by installing the artwork in the location preferred (see images below).
We provide these beautiful pre-waxed batik pieces for community events like PAssion Arts at community centres. Our artists will also be available to facilitate the activity and manage materials provided. Participants need no pre-requisite skill and would typically be engaged for 20 – 30 minutes and they get to bring back the beautiful piece of batik they created. This activity is very popular everywhere we go.