KLIB 2007: Kuala Lumpur International Batik Conference and Exhibition

~   by kamaldollah on Dec 03, 2007.
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Batik is big in Malaysia. Well not as big as it is in Indonesia, but I can safely say it is a BIG effort with so many activities promoting Malaysian batik in Kuala Lumpur (the capital of Malaysia) and with key people from around the world who champions batik convening at the KLCC convention center for the second Kuala Lumpur International Batik (KLIB) from 30th Nov – 2nd Dec 2007. The first KLIB was held in 2005.

I had the privilege of being invited as a foreign speaker because of my MA thesis about innovating batik-painting for contemporary practice attracted their attention. It addresses the presuppositions that is related to the medium and my experimentations for creating post-modern works of art. The event had the support of the Malaysian Government and was managed by an NGO, The Yayasan Budi Penyayang Malaysia. The Malaysian host did their best with regards to hopitality, so Mr. foreign speaker from the not-so-far-away-land here was given his plane ticket, greeted at the airport, checked into a cosy room at the Traders hotel with a magnificient view of the Petronas twin towers, attended to by a dedicated liason personnel at my beck and call and stuffed myself silly with sushi and sashimi buffet every night. Burrp!

It was not all fun. The proceedings was a serious affair when speakers after speakers from Malaysia and abroad spoke about batik from diverse perspective ranging from art, business, culture, antiquity, history, fashion, intellectual property, even branding and my personal favourite – eco friendly natural dying alternatives. My presentation talks about batik practices in Singapore where there is no more mass production but mostly as an artistic medium and the practices of the few batik artists in Singapore.

While I was attending conference, it saddened me to receive SMSes that Mr. Jaafar Latif, a batik master in Singapore passed away on Thursday 29th November. I could not attend his funeral, so I revised my slide to mention his contribution to the art of batik and showed the audience his batik-painting commission at the Orchard Road MRT.
Edric Ong, Prof. Najib, Achmad Sopandi, Baba Wee and myself

There were also an exhibition area open to the public where there were many booths presenting batik products and innovations. I am most delighted to see a good number of Indonesian booths in this Malaysian event. This is a positive development as there once existed a protection policy on batik import between the two countries. I befriended the Indonesian trade officer and he said it was initially a concern, but upon checking he confirms that there is no barier for importation of Indonesian batik in Malaysia (I’m an artist so the details of this trade matter is better left to the traders and the government). Later, I also met a Malaysian batik maker who plans on sourcing for sewing subcontractor in Indonesia. This is a healthy development as batik of the Malay world can be jointly promoted while each retaining and developing their own style and brand of batik.
Natural dyed batik by Edric Ong

On the final day, we were ushered to the front row of the runway for the ‘The Piala Sri Endon’ competition final. It is a coveted title for Malaysian batik practitioners and a grand event officiated by her majesty the queen of Malaysia. It was fierce competition for the trophy and RM$30,000 prize. The quality of work by the finalists is breathtakingly amazing.

I was also made a member of the World Batik Council. Looks like promoting batik has taken a serious turn for me. During this time, I have been exposed to so many cultures and techniques of batik. Made many wonderful friends and contacts from around the world.
Piala Seri Endon winner and finalists for the batik fashion category

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