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Designer Oscar Lawalata seeks to support batik artisans

Ni Nyoman Wira
Ni Nyoman Wira

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Thu, May 4, 2017  /  09:38 am

Following the success of the “I Am Indonesian” showcase series last year, fashion designer Oscar Lawalata tried his hand at traditional batik at the I Am Indonesian – Kembalikan Batik Kembali (Getting the Batik Back) exhibition held from April 28 to 30 at the Dharmawangsa Jakarta.

The event displayed batik fabrics made by around 30-40 batik makers from different villages across Java. Oscar said it took him four years to prepare for the exhibition, which highlighted three types of classical batik: tanahan, sogan and prada.

“Perhaps people don’t know about them [the fabrics],” Oscar told The Jakarta Post during the exhibition, citing an example of batik made using the prada technique, or a traditional, manual Javanese painting technique that uses canting (spouted bowl) and gold dust or gold leaf, instead of the more popularly known malam (hot liquid wax) technique.

Visitors of the exhibition were also able to marvel at other popular motifs, such as parang, truntum, kaum and garuda, as well as purchase them.

Visitors of the exhibition look at popular batik motifs, such as parang, truntum, kaum and garuda.(JP/Bayu Widhiatmoko)

Read also: Batik: a cultural dilemma of infatuation and appreciation

During the event, Oscar encouraged people to support the batik makers through the Philanthropist program, a 1.5-year movement that helps the creators of batik tanahan, sogan and prada in selected assisted villages to continue making batik, especially traditional motifs.

“[They need] assurance,” said Oscar about the challenges faced by the batik makers. “They already spend a very long time creating batik, but it’s still uncertain whether someone will buy the product or not. And to make it worse, some of them become shopkeepers or work in the transportation sector, [even though] they already have the skills [to make batik].”

“Batik itself is related to fashion,” he continued. “If we take a closer look, the batik artisans require a long process and special skills, but what happens in society is they want an instant result – fast fashion […] Batik has developed into something contemporary, which is good, I think, but there must be a consideration toward batik’s originality.”

As for Oscar’s forthcoming projects, he plans to create a similar program in the near future. (kes)