Journey to Batik Projects Work on paper

Design for Javanese women event

Legien Warsosemito-Schenk & Stijn Schenk reached out to me asking if I wanted to design, or create, a batik inspired motif for their event. The event held on 17 June 2023 is part of a series organized by them, Jessica Warsosemito & Monique Koosman ~ in which Javanese(-Surinamese) women from different generations come together and reflect on the impact of colonial history.
For 17 June the focus was on sexuality and the view on sexuality and I was asked to translate this theme ~ which consist of many different elements ~ into a pattern.

Through talking with Legien, about symbols, colours & what it means for her and the room she wants to create for Javanese women, I soon got an idea on how the repeating of the pattern had to look like.
It had to be a circle, a close space, to represent a safe space, but at the same time it had to move outward, in a ritme that goes with the flow, to grow & learn in your own pace.
In the center ~ on request ~ the Mamuli. The Mamuli originates from the Indonesian island Sumba, it has a shape which represents the female genitalia, symbolizing the woman as the giver of life.
Around it I placed different animals who have a symbolic connection with sexuality, but also with movement & growth. In a short talk during the event I explained a little more on this.
It was really nice to get this invite, feel honoured. I had to make in a bit of a rush, but I am very happy with the result & all the nice responses I got on it during the event.

On 18 november 2023 there will be another event at Bibliotheek Zuidplein in Rotterdam~ open to everyone ~ reflecting on the gatherings and presenting the (art)works that were made to complement the events.

Journey to Batik Projects

Research report on Prankemon Green

So excited to finally share this. In the making since I started my position as a Research Associate at Research Center for Material Culture (RCE) in 2019. To research and re-tell the story on batik entrepreneur Carolina Josephina von Franquemont, it was important to use all tools available to look into the myth & the legend, especially that of ‘Prankemon green’.

With the help and expertise of Art Proaño Gaibor of Rijksdienst voor Cultureel Erfgoed the green (and other dye colours) found in batiks attributed to Von Franquemont could be put under a microscope. Pretty much exactly that we did. With just 2 mm of a thread many different things can be research; what dyes were used, synthetic or natural ingredients, what natural ingredients aka plants were used, traces of wax or oils can be found, metals & carbon traces.Which was also done by photographing the batiks in different light filters. 

The process was long. It took me about 6 months to get approval to actually do the research, then more months passed before the actually samples were taken and then more months of processing the data before the report was done. But now it is officially here: Carolina Josephina von Franquemont (1817-1867) Prankemon green : research into the chemical composition of organic dyes in 19th century sarongs.

Via the link in bio; you can read a summery of the report & results.

“The recipe for this green color was allegedly a secret that was lost after Von Franquemont’s death. The conducted research is to determine what Prankemon green is made of and to attribute the colour to the workshop or debunk dyestuff myths surrounding its creation. 
Studies of five cotton batik sarongs (collection: NMvW Leiden and World Museum Rotterdam) show that all the colors were made from natural dyes, most likely locally sourced {…} On the basis of the results there are strong indications that the investigated batiks were all made in different dyeing workshops.”

Via you can request the report D2021-082 digitally. It is not yet accessible online, but hopefully it will be soon. The report is in English.


2 augustus – Lezing bij Bibliotheek Alphen-Centrum

Op woensdag 2 augustus geeft Sabine Bolk een lezing over batik. Sabine gaat in op de stof, de betekenis en de geschiedenis. Zij doet dit aan de hand van haar reizen en de doeken die zij verzamelde. Sinds 2009 is batik UNESCO immaterieel cultureel erfgoed van Indonesië. Toch staat de ambacht nog altijd onder druk.

De reis naar Batik
In 2009 maakte Sabine haar eerste ‘reis naar Batik’. Op Java onderzocht ze hoe batik gemaakt werd en of ze het zelf kon leren. In 2016 keerde ze terug naar Java. In de korte film die zij maakte is de hoofdrol voor danseres Dwi Anggraeni die de batik-dans, Tari Batik, opvoert. Het maakproces van batik wordt uitgebeeld vanuit de handen de batikmakers, pembatiks, aan de noordkust van Java.

Tijdens Sabines derde reis in 2019 richtte zij zich op de historie van batik en de verwevenheid met het koloniale verleden. In haar huidige onderzoek werkt zij aan een hervertelling van de (Indo-)Europese invloed op de Javaanse batik tussen 1840 en 1890. In oktober 2022 bereidde ze haar expositie ‘Future of Batik’ voor, die eind dit jaar te zien is bij Erasmushuis in Jakarta.

Over Sabine Bolk
Sabine Bolk (1984) is een beeldend kunstenaar en batikonderzoeker. Ze laat zich vooral inspireren door de patroonleer en de filosofie van batik. Op haar blog ‘De reis naar Batik’ doet zij verslag van haar ontdekkingen, haar onderzoek en reizen.

Sabine documenteerde het maakproces van batik. Ze lanceerde haar nu deels afgeronde onderzoeksproject ‘Retelling the History of the (Indo-)European Influence on Batik’ in Nederland en op Java. Sabine werkte bij het Research Center for Material Culture in Leiden met de batikcollecties in Nederlandse en Indonesische museums en archieven.

Sabine schrijft artikelen voor verschillende platformen, zoals Modemuze en Things That Talk. Ze organiseert events en geeft lezingen en workshops. Sabine zet zich in voor het behoud van batik en werkt samen met batikmakers op Java, onderzoekers, ontwerpers, kunstenaars en andere batikfans.

woensdag 2 augustus 2023
10:30 – 11:30
Locatie Bibliotheek Alphen-Centrum

Aarkade 10
2406 BV Alphen aan den Rijn

Gratis toegang, meld u wel aan via de link:

Journey to Batik News Projects

World Stories on Batik

My two world stories for the National Museum of World Cultures on Batik got published. One focusses on the making: Worldwide loved and worn but how is Batik made with many photos by me on the making process, next to great images & batiks from the National Museum of World Cultures collection. And the other part is on the wearer of Batik; Wearing Batik is showing who you are. Both are in Dutch, but I included many wonderful images, so go check it out!