The latest subtle batik work by the very talented Swansea based artist and teacher.
Page updated 25/04/16
Contemporary batik art in Tenby
(Extract from press release for batik guild exhibition)
Batik, a method of patterning cloth with wax and dye, goes back thousands of years. The earliest remnants of wax-resist cloth found in China were dated from AD581-618 and Japanese batik screens were dated from AD710-794. The practice spread from Asia to the Malayan archipelago and then to the Middle East via the caravan route.
When Dutch colonisers brought batik cloth to Europe it started a wave of interest in the West with art schools in Europe and the USA exploring the technique and producing textiles for use and wear. This interest reached a peak in the 1920s and again in the 1960s.
Batik as a fine art form started at that time in the West and spread world-wide, including back to countries like Java best known for continuing traditional production for use as head and body wraps, saris, carrying cloths and bags, household textiles and religious and ceremonial garments.
Contemporary batik art uses the same basic techniques as the traditional makers but with variations: molten wax is applied with a tool to areas of cloth, cold dye is applied to the cloth by brushing or dipping and the dye will ‘take’ on the unwaxed areas and ‘resist’ the waxed parts. Boiling or ironing the cloth will remove the wax and reveal the image, with successive applications of wax and dye refining it and adding complexity of detail and texture. Many different fabrics may be used and wax may be applied with a variety of tools including the traditional ‘canting’ (a kind of pen with a reservoir for molten wax) or ‘cap’ (a copper stamp for repeating patterns).
Rhona Tooze, an artist and teacher from Swansea, who has taught batik throughout South Wales to all ages over the years and now teaches adults for Swansea University, came especially to Tenby for inspiration. She has produced a series of street scenes, strong painterly work with delicate detail and subtle colour variations as well as a range of other subjects including animals, surfers and landscapes of the South Wales Valleys.