Traditional arts of batik and textile weaving get big boost

Friday, 3 December 2010 09:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Sri Lanka boasts a huge variety of traditional arts and crafts spread across the country through the many nationalities and communities. Batik is a well-known craft in Sri Lanka and was made popular throughout the Western world through the fashion industry.

Batik design is based on dyeing some parts of the material, while leaving the rest of the material untouched, to achieve a pattern.

Batik is a craft that can be greatly developed as a home-based industry throughout the island as most areas of Sri Lanka offer adequate sunlight and favourable conditions to dry the fabric. This was a main reason to educate the public at the Sri Lanka Design Festival on the basic techniques of batik, as a measure to develop craft-based creative industries.

Dharshi Keerthisena of Buddhi Batiks, Sri Lanka’s most popular advocate of the batik craft, led a workshop in the Craft Village at the SLDF 2010.  Dharshi explained and demonstrated the basic techniques of the craft along with minutiae such as the temperature of wax during application and so on.  

The workshop was interactive and hands-on, allowing participants to try their creativity on batik by creating their own batik.  “This is really helpful, and we learned a lot. We were shown how to make a design, apply the wax, dye and finish the product,” said a participant who was a fashion designer wishing to explore the crafts. SLDF also organised workshops to educate artisans on the art of textile weaving.

The Sri Lankan Handloom industry has a long history and it is one of the oldest traditional crafts on this island. Hand-woven textile industry carries great potential to reinvent itself as a revenue generator for the local economy.

Philippa Watkins, Senior Tutor at the Royal College of Art in London, led a workshop for artisans in the Craft Village of SLDF 2010 focusing on using colour and weaving techniques. Watkins worked in groups and individually with artisans from different parts of Sri Lanka advising them on expanding colour palettes to achieve new combinations of colours. “Use paintings as your inspiration,” she said, “…and see how the artist uses colours.”

She showed students samples of artwork with interesting use of colour and several magazines and books relevant to the type of weaving they do. “The knowledge is very important,” one participant said.

“We learned how to do highlights, which we don’t do in this country very much. Foreigners, they like colours that are less bright sometimes, so I got to see some colour combinations that I don’t normally see.”

Another impressed participant expressed her thoughts on the workshops and on Watkins; “She knows every weaving technique! It was helpful because I do not want to just do the same thing all the time.”

The festival was conceptualised by the Academy of Design (AOD) and organised by the AOD in partnership with the Export Development Board (EDB).

SLDF 2010 was supported by the principal sponsor MAS Holdings together with Joint Apparel Association Forum (JAAF) British Council, Sri Lankan Airlines, Sri Lanka Tourist Board, Mount Lavinia Hotel, Carbon Consulting Company, Dialog, Canon/Metropolitan and many more. For more information log on to;