Wax, paper and dye

In 2008 I was stuck at home with newborn twins and a two year old; it was winter, I had a tiny studio at home and short intervals between nursing in which to work.  I was also nursing some fair physical and psychological scars, thanks to a traumatic experience with the public health system. I needed something absorbing, structured and meditative; something I could drop in and out of without fear of losing momentum. Did I mention I was at home all the time? I gathered metal objects from my kitchen; spatulas, carving forks, strainers ana broken coffee plunger, and began to experiment with using them as stamps. In the batik process stamps are known as tjap or cap.  Traditionally considered as a lessed skilled artform than tulis or ‘written’ batik, which is executed by hand and memory, tjap utilises copper or wooden stamps that are repeated to form a broad area of pattern. The printmaker in me has great respect for the tjap process; any good printmaker knows how important registration is, and tjap printers know the same thing. In my mind, tjap is to tulis as painting is to printmaking….the black sheep of the family, but secretly complicated and divine.

So I began to experiment with printing batik wax, or malam; at first onto scraps of fabric and then, in the desperation of hermitude (have you ever taken three under-threes to an art store?) I began to print on the hoshu paper I had lying around.  For dye, I tried out more of my left-overs-fromp-art-school, including concrete oxides I had used as washes over wax crayon drawings. So that’s where it all began, and in 2013 I exhibited a body of work developed from this method at 4a Centre for Contemporary Asia Art, Sydney, in the group exhibition In Possible Worlds.

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