Kingsland Road exhibition celebrates The Beauty of Batik

Batik dragon design.

The Beauty of Batik pop-up will showcase Malaysian art in Hackney. - Credit: Keshia Wong

A batik-themed pop-up celebrating Malaysia Independence Day is due to open at a Hackney dry cleaners turned art gallery and its downstairs restaurant.

The Steam Room and restaurant Gilvic, on Kingsland Road, will host the Beauty of Batik pop-up, planned as a collaborative celebration of the south east Asian country's Independence Day to showcase artists with Malaysian roots. 

Keshia Wong's batik artwork depicts a mythological creature called a Phoenix. 

Keshia Wong's batik artwork depicts a mythological creature called a Phoenix. - Credit: Keshia Wong

Batik is a traditional cloth dyeing craft with origins in Indonesia. As part of the pop-up, Batik stories have been crowdsourced from all around the world and woven into a collection of tributes at the exhibition, as well as printed in a booklet. 

Keshia Wong, one of the artists told the Gazette how her art is based around symbolism and motifs with some inclusion of mythological creatures from Chinese culture. : "Inspired by the variety of historical Chinese art, I wanted to take a modern approach to traditional Oriental designs and symbolisms within our culture - adapt it to suit all generations.  

“I think it is valuable to try and upkeep some old traditions and beliefs that may have been forgotten.” 

Cranes by Keshia Wong. 

Cranes by Keshia Wong. - Credit: Keshia Wong

Malaysia is a multi-cultural society made up of many ethnic groups including native Malays and populations of Chinese and Indian heritage. 

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Keshia added: “I hope this batik exhibition overall would bring a sense of representation in the variety of art and food in our Malaysian culture.  

The Beauty of Batik pop-up.

The Beauty of Batik pop-up will be held in the Steam Room dry cleaners in Hackney and its downstairs restaurant Gilvic. - Credit: Tony Chung

Jenny Lau, curator of the exhibition, said: “We received a range of beautiful and heartwarming stories about how in batik cultures, batik literally forms the fabric of life.  

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 “There were memories of beloved mothers and grandmothers and how they wore their sarongs; musings on the everyday usefulness of batik fabric; all the way through to its presence at high days and holy days in the form of wedding attire; even in the upcycling of batik fabrics as gift wrapping and aprons.”  

Owned by husband and wife team Tony and Fran, the Steam Room and its intergenerational legacy considers itself a part of Hackney’s multicultural fabric, and is passionate about supporting and elevating the next generation of ESEA talent. 

The batik showcase will run from August 28 to September 11.    

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