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The hum beneath the noise

A sideways start to the day so my antennae have been awry.


I’ve been picking up on things I wasn’t expecting to see or consider, so experiencing the odd sensation of living out two narratives at once:  the planned, artistic inquiry into functional art and the role of repetitive action in studio work, and the unplanned trundle through jumbled pieces of family story interaction/reaction have overlapped themselves.


I’m experiencing a kind of synesthesia in which my mother’s story about her conversation about social media, conspiracy theory, the deep south, Alberta and guns is intermingling –  with an image of a cotton plant’s blossom and fibre spun into threads then woven together make fabric.


I can see long long bolt of wet, hand-scrunched white cotton, and a handful of skilled Indonesian workers adding three sets of strong dye.  I can see them, precise and efficient, building the wax print.  Then more dye, more scrunching, more dye again, add sunlight, sprinkle setting compound from a bucket.  Remove the wax resist, then wash. Package and send from Indonesia to Canada, where I then buy two yards each of several bolts to make functional art with.


Thinking about how our notions of guns as a necessary protection is printed into us, just as racism and misogyny is. How for those of white, European descent, colonial privilege is dyed into our very nature.  How a wax print resist can protect part of an these old ideas from being erased by bleach.  How after the shock of change the small part not erased still holds, but differently – transformed into a beautiful repeated pattern, altered by the new colours around it.


Two complexities inform each other in my sideways day, and that’s just fine.

The videos below describe how old and incredible this process is in Indonesia;  it’s time for me to get back into the studio.


Chickens in the background in this modern batik making video from Java. Note:  this is not traditional Javanese batik – for a video description of this with beautiful gamelan soundtrack go here

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