Installations Journey to Batik Projects

Colonial Mirror

Batik Statement series ‘Colonial Mirror’
Dia-slides made by Koen de Wit
Concept and looks by Sabine Bolk

I started making Batik Statement already 8 years ago. The first one I made was a Batik-fashion-tribute-to-fashion-bloggers in 2012. Being a blogger, but not at all a fashion blogger, I thought it would be fun to explore this world of pretending-to-be-fashion-while-being-at-home and create looks with Batik. I got a great response to it and kept making and sharing Batik Statements. I also got Batik Statements from others and even did four Batik Statement events. However I never really used it in an Art-type of way.

When Pieter Vastbinder asked me and Koen de Wit for his yearly Spiegelhol event at the BelcrumWatertoren during the Cultuurnacht, I had the idea of exploring the ‘colonial mirror’, or better my view in that mirror.
Looking for ways of addressing colonial history and how we reflect on this past, I got inspired by ‘Bigi Spikri‘ and the selfie-culture of Indonesia. ‘Bigi Spikri‘ is a Surinamese word which translates into ‘Big mirror’. During big festive parades dressed up people would walk the streets of Paramaribo seeing themselves reflected in the shopwindow. These shopwindows functioned as big mirrors to admire yourself in. The ‘Bigi Spikri’ parade is closely related to ‘Keti Koti’. ‘Keti Koti’ celebrated on 1 of July that marks the date when slavery was abolished in Suriname and the Dutch Antilles in 1863. The parade is a returning part of this remembrance and it is not only a way of admire beauty in diversity, but also to invite others to reflect on this past.
In the BelcrumWatertoren I created a shopwindow in which I displayed books, objects and textiles that I use to learn from and reflect on our colonial past.
Next to that I showed a slide-show of photos I made in the Netherlands and Indonesia showing how we deal with this past. During my last visit to Indonesia in October, I was much more focussed on our shared history and visited more old sites. The cellphone-culture which I already encountered from 2009, is now transformed into a full on selfie-culture. Next to being asked a lot to pose for photos, people pose everywhere. Places for me filled with heavy feelings are now popular for the youth as pretty backdrops for their Insta-shots. Old Dutch places even got fixed up, and re-used. Before these colonial memories were literally falling apart. So an interesting development which allows us to reflect better on this past even if it is through a filter with someone making a peace sign.

To bring this inspiration together and make my ‘colonial mirror’ even more visible, I made a Batik Statement series. With the great help of Koen de Wit, we made analog dia-slides on 30 December 2019. It was very cold, but with a beautiful blue sky and we found a great spot with water in the background.
I made 5 different looks using clothing and textiles from my own collection. I am especially proud of the iPhone-headpiece we created based on the ear-irons worn in Dutch Traditional wear. It was good for many laughs and the result works so well.
Also very happy with how my koto-skirt turned out using a Vlisco Java Print and a lot of pins. The Java Print has a motif of a big standing mirror. It was designed in 2016 for the Vlisco ‘Woven Wisdom’ collection. For me immediately it was linked with the reflection we should make with our past, and I sheepishly thought Vlisco refer to that with this collection…However I instantly thought of this fabric for this photoshoot and was happy it was still available.

Without going in much further detail, I just want to share the series here with you. During the Cultuurnacht 2020 it was projected in a loop. These are digital scans of the dia-slides. We had multiple of each look and I picked my favourites to share here with you, enjoy!

Installations Journey to Batik Projects

Batik Murals

This year, 2018, I had the great experience of creating two Batik Murals. One really big one, covering all the walls of the Children’s expedition room Rumah Exposisi Madura at Animal park Taman Indonesia. One smaller one in the hallway of friend and Ikat-expert Sandra Niessen.

One of my first commissioned work was actually a mural too. I was invited in 2007 to make two murals at a pig-farm that is open to the public and is big on improving the short lives of the pigs there. The murals are still there and open to the public.

So when Marlisa asked me to make-over their Children’s expedition room with a Batik theme, I was really exited. I worked in total 7 days on the mural, and re-decorating the room. The mural starts with typical patterns that were worn by royalty in Yogyakarta and Solo on Java in a Sogan, brown & dark blue colour palette. It continues into a motif with lotuses and then Batik Buketan, an Indo-European pattern still populair today in Pekalongan. After that in red, batik motifs from Lasem and Tuban with a more Chinese influence. It continues into blue with Cirebon’s famous Mega Mendung and ends with a Kain from Madura.

The second mural I made, was after I made the first part at Taman. I was so surprised and honoured to brighten up Sandra Niessen hallway!

I had great fun, and a lot of muscle ache, making these murals this passed year! During the second Wastra Weekend, 23 & 24 February 2019, you can view the mural at Taman Indonesia with additional information on all the Batik motifs I used.




Films Installations Journey to Batik Organic floor carpets Projects

Dance in a ricecarpet

Titel of work: ‘Dance in a ricecarpet’

Locations: Argument Vertoningsruimte in Tilburg (NL), Paulushofje in Etten-Leur (NL) and in backyard in Yogyakarta (Indonesia)

Year: 2009 – 2011

‘Dance in a ricecarpet’ is a project in which art, dance and music are combined to a performance. The project was partly developed during a workperiod from the 19th of April until the 22nd of May 2010 in Argument Vertoningsruimte in Tilburg (NL).

During ‘Dance in a ricecarpet’ a ricecarpet is destroyed as well as created by dance. A ricecarpet is a carpet made of several organic materials such as rice, beans and lentils.

‘Dance in a ricecarpet’ was created by Sabine Bolk (ricecarpet) in collaborations with Barbara van Kooten (dance), Chester L. Brandes (classical guitar), Koen de Wit (clarinet), Dirk Elst (percussion) and Berk Aarts (light). It was performed in Yogyakarta, Java, Indonesia (the try-out) in 2009, in Argument Vertoningsruimte in Tilburg (NL) in 2010 and in Etten-Leur (NL) in 2011.

Installations Journey to Batik Organic floor carpets Projects

Batik Buketan


Titel of work: ‘Batik Buketan’

Location: Museum Batik in Pekalongan (Java, Indonesia)

Technique: Temporary carpet made from Natural Dye and other organic materials

Year: 2016





Installations Journey to Batik Projects Work on paper

The journey of Batik

Titel of work: ‘The journey of Batik’

Location: Electron, Breda (NL)

Technique: Wallpaper installation

Year: 2010


On 20 meter of  wallpaper I painted a pattern based on the bird-like plant motif found on Batik from Lasem (ID) and a pattern based on my ricebird Batik in flight. The wallpapers together form the transformation from bird into motif.

This installation was displayed twice in 2010. In Breda at the exhibition ‘Paper in progress’ and in Leiden during the festival PindaKAAS.

Installations Projects Work on paper

Forest exhibition with Emmy Dijkstra

Titel of work: ‘Forest exhibition’

In collaboration with Emmy Dijkstra

Location: Enschede and Etten-Leur (NL)

Technique: Stencil on (wall)paper

Year: 2012


In 2011 me and Emmy Dijkstra started working together. The collaboration began as an online residency. On a blog we shared our inspiration and worked with a shared theme for each new work. In one year we made four paper installations and a lot of small sketches together and apart from each other.  We were looking for a space to show our works, when reading  ‘The Summer book’ by Tove Jansson gave us the perfect location: the forest.

We showed our works first in Enschede and later that year in the forest ‘De Koekoek’ in Etten-Leur. The exhibition was shown one day and was build up and down on that same day. For the opening we read out a chapter from ‘The Summer book’ in which a little girl is exploring the island she is staying on that Summer and finds an exhibition, hidden in the forest.

To read more about the forest exhibitions and our ongoing collaboration visit

Pictures by me and Rense Nieuwenhuis


Installations Projects Work on paper

Little Nana’s Cape

Titel of work: ‘Little Nana’s Cape

Location: De Grote Kerk in Breda (NL)

Technique: Wallpaper installation

Year: 2013


In the Summer of 2013 I made a 30 meter Wallpaper installation for an exhibition in De Grote Kerk in Breda (NL). I made with stencils a pattern of different butterflies connected with folktales about death. Some butterflies are seen as the returning souls of lost ones (the Monarchs during Día de Muertos), others as bringers of bad news (the Atlas Moth on Java and the Death’s head hawkmoth in the Netherlands). All butterflies represent in one way or another rebirth, because of their magical transformation from caterpillar to butterfly, but especially butterflies that migrate are connected with these stories and believes.
The title ‘Little Nana’s Cape’ is inspired by a mythical story from the Aztec about their god Nanahuatzin.

On my blog De reis naar Batik more about my inspiration for this work in the post ‘Lepidopterist simply observe lepidopterans

Installations Projects

Tree circle ‘Acer Ginnala’

In 2014, already 7 years ago, I was invited to participate in a project called ‘Art & Trees’. With a little budget artists were asked to choose a tree in a specific region and make an artwork for it. I choose a freshly planted Acer Ginnala on the St. Jansplein in Moergestel (NL).

I had the idea to do something with the tree circle; when trees loose their leaves they create a circle, like a little carpet around their own trunk. I thought it would be nice to re-create this and that also the tree itself would over time and during the day add onto my work with its shadow and falling seeds & leaves. The ‘carpet’ I created from wood with layers and layers of different wood paints. If you walked around the circle, you would see how the Acer Ginnala, Maple tree, would transform through the seasons.

The organisation that invited me was new and unexperienced. They didn’t make a clear agreement about their tree-project with the local government, so I got an angry phone-call I had to remove the work or They Would! They, the local government, thought my artwork was some elaborate street-art and I had to remove it. It was only there a few weeks instead of the 6 months the organisation had planned…

The work never returned to its spot and stayed in my studio. When we moved to Utrecht in 2015, I donated my artwork to the local Intratuin. We did wonderful projects in Breda that were supported by the Intratuin, like the Front-lawn competition, and the owner was a big fan of Acers. He had a whole section specifically for these trees. So I gave him the work and he hang it there with a piece of Acer wood in the centre. I haven’t been there for a while, might be still there. Either way, it was great creating this work, and after 7 years, why not add it here to my website.