Friday, June 12, 2009

Batik donated to Elephants for Africa

Last weekend I popped along to the annual Bristol Festival of Nature event. My first stop was to the marquee housing many conservation organisation stands. Elephants for Africa, who I have mentioned in previous posts, were in this marquee and I was delivering one of my batik pieces to them in the hope that they can use it in whatever way they see fit to raise some funds for their work with elephants in Botswana. Dr Kate Evans, who is the founder of the charity, hopes to auction it off at a fund raising event sometime in the near future.

And in case you have no idea what batik is... by applying hot melted wax to a surface (in this case, cotton) a 'resist' is formed. This enables colour to be painted/dyed over the entire surface
and the colour 'takes' only where the surface is free of wax. In this way, by applying successive applications or 'layers' of wax and colour, an image is created... the more layers of colour and wax the more complex the image. In this case over 20 layers/applications of colour and wax were used.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Batik workshop with TWASI

In the latter part of last month I tutored a batik workshop for The Wildlife Art Society International. Their annual exhibition was held at The Nature In Art Museum and Art Gallery in Gloucestershire and they organised a few workshops to run in conjunction with the exhibition.

I had seven ‘students’ in my ‘class’, all but one or two of which were fellow artists and as such they had a good grasp of colour mixing etc so it was just a case of getting to grips with the medium itself… as they were all new to it.

After having a quick try out on a small frame to g
et used to the equipment and techniques, they had, by lunchtime, progressed onto the big frame and their ‘proper piece’ of batik. The process, technique and understanding of how to create an image is a lot to take in and to get a finished piece done in one day is a big ask of them. Unsurprisingly there were one or two that didn’t ‘click’ with the medium til late in the day. This I always expect and try to reassure those students that it will come in time. It can be really tricky to get your head around the process and whilst some can ‘fall’ into it straight away, there are many that struggle to understand where they are going with it at first. I realise how disheartening and frustrating this must be and so I find it most rewarding when I see ‘the penny drop’ with them and suddenly they’re away and enjoying themselves much more. But for some it may take several attempts over a few days (this is where a 5-day workshop really comes into its own) and trying to push them in one day is unfair and I feel for them the frustration of not being able to do what they would like to achieve. There was at least one lady who felt she didn’t get to grips with it but I hope despite that, she had a good day and what she did produce she can be really proud of.

In the group there was one man, and his wife and cousin (who were also among the students) were most impressed that he used the iron (to remove the wax at the end of the process)… apparently something he normally stays well clear of and so photographic evidence was taken! What a thing to do to a guy!

At the end of the day they all produced some fabulous pieces and one student was so keen on this new medium that she went away with details of what to get and where, to have a go herself at home. Fantastic... a convert! She had been looking for a medium that suits her style of working and had so far not found anything satisfactory… but she was very enthused by the batik. So I hope she has fun exploring the medium at home and it turns out to be what she’s looking for.

As I knew most of the group it was particularly lovely to spend the day with them playing with arty stuff and hopefully they had as much fun learning about batik as I did teaching them. Here’s some of their work…..