A Memorable Talk with the Derby Embroidery & Textile Group

I had the pleasure of giving a talk entitled “How I Discovered the Ancient Art of Batik, Batik’s History & Cultural Significance, and Modern Batik Today” to the Derby Embroidery & Textile Group at St. Mary’s Church Hall, near central Derby. The event was a wonderful experience, attended by over 60 members who made me feel incredibly welcome.

It was heartening to find such a thriving textile community in my now home-county of Derbyshire. The event had a lovely community spirit, complete with a raffle with prizes, tea and coffee, homemade cakes, and the promotion of a charity fundraiser for Prostate Cancer (which my own father lived through the challenge of for decades). The dedication of the members, each with their own unique passion for textiles was truly inspiring.

Before I even began, attendees were eager to learn about batik, taking photos of my work and sharing their excitement for my talk. My presentation covered:

  • My Personal Creative Journey: My own history with batik and how I discovered and fell in love with this ancient art form.
  • Historical Insights: The origins of batik in Indonesia, West Africa, and India, along with its history in other cultures.
  • Modern Applications: Contemporary batik around the world and its significance today, with examples of batik from modern day batik artists.
  • Spiritual Aspects: The meditative nature of batik and UNESCO’s recognition of Indonesian batik as one of the ‘Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritages of Humanity’ with their annual celebration of National Batik Day.

I showcased some of my recent batik pieces, including those from my Initial Class, Botanical Batik Class, and Mandala Class. I also brought examples of batik design on fabric, surface pattern designs, and even a wooden box with batik patterned veneer which I created using traditional joinery skills.

At the end of my talk, I provided information about the “International Year of Batik” campaign which is supported by the Batik Guild and I directed everyone to our websites, batikinternational.org and batikguild.org. I also shared details about our current Batik Guild exhibition, “Patterns of Change,” in Florida at Naples Botanical Garden, and our upcoming exhibition in Rugby, UK, in July and August 2024.

The audience’s response was overwhelmingly positive. Many members shared their own stories of travels to Indonesia, India, and Africa, showing me photos of the people, textiles and festivals they had encountered. Their tales were deeply inspiring and have fuelled my desire to travel more often.

An unexpected moment occurred when my talk was accidentally broadcasted to the neighbouring church during a multiple Christening! A man rushed in, out of breath, to figure out where the mysterious voice was coming from. Thankfully, we sorted it out quickly, and both events proceeded smoothly.

The event was a fantastic opportunity to connect with fellow textile enthusiasts and to share the beauty and history of batik. Many attendees expressed interest in my workshops and so I hope to meet them all again soon, whilst continuing to teach more about this wonderful medium. I look forward to such enriching experiences while I carry on spreading the love for batik!