Shades of Meaning
The story of Inten (pseudonym), the color specialist, in conversation with Steffie Christiaens
Collaborations are key to the CHRSTNS brand, both for the exchange of knowledge, and for the appreciation of cultural heritage, spirit, and art. The journey into exploring the best-fitted partnerships has been intense, and is still an ongoing. Working hand-in-hand with collaborators is, for Steffie, of the utmost importance. It is for this reason that she is delighted to have been able to spend a week with Inten, in Lombok, Indonesia.
Inten gave up a long period of his life locked away because of a love story. A story, which in certain countries, would have been deemed beautiful, was in his country seen as a transgression with a penalty of 10 years’ incarceration.
When Steffie met Inten for the first time in the prisons’ batik workshop, he had given her the impression that he was a passionate craftsman with a strong connection to art. He was very motivated and enthusiastic about the craft. Batik is a traditional technique for decorating cloth where each piece of fabric is hand-painted. In recent years, there has been a declining interest in batik, and the craft risks becoming a lost art particularly where Inten currently resides, in Lombok. Today, there is only one batik workshop left in the city.
CHRSTNS is financially and emotionally supporting Inten to build a fully-equipped Batik workshop, so that he can develop a self-sufficient life. When Steffie was in Lombok, Inten created his first batik pieces for CHRSTNS. This was a moment for celebration, and a moment to share their collaboration story.
Steffie: Would you like to briefly describe how we met?
Inten: Once upon a time, I happened to work in a prison batik workshop. One day, the Empress of the Malaysian Kingdom visited our workshop, and on the same day, I saw the figure of another person who was so kind and interesting. She was a designer by profession, and an art lover who was so special. It was Steffie, and that was our first encounter. The second time we met was just before my release. We talked about how to continue my life; she gave me the motivation not to give up.
Steffie: What did batik mean to you when you started to work with the medium?
Inten: Batik, for me, is an art of self-therapy. The art cannot be separated from the soul who loves it. All the feelings and ambitions that cannot be expressed in words about the beauty of art in the soul that is sometime turbulent, I will express them in the form of color and the beauty of batik. I will try to get satisfaction through the colors and patterns.
Steffie: How did you become a color specialist? Can you describe more about what the creation of colors means to you?
Inten: When I began the work in the art of batik, I realized that color is one of the most important aspects that must be explored, from which I continue and continuously do research on how to produce various new colors. I’m careful every day. For me, color is something that is very influential to one’s point of view and thought process about everything. The beauty of art cannot happen without color. Everything that we can see with our eyes is heavily influenced by color. Color can also affect one’s outlook and emotions on the world, and I like to express my feeling through color. In prison, colors helped me to obtain a certain freedom. When I find a new color I feel strong, and that gives me confidence. Finding a new color is also like secret, and I feel special to have been able to reach to this moment.
Steffie: I know you like to focus on the future, and there you have my support. As you said: “where there is a will, there is a way”. You have gone through an extremely difficult moment, one where your life stood still. What are the most important aspects for reintegration into your “new” life?
Inten: I will try to restore my enthusiasm and learn from every mistake in the past. I’m sure to be able to reach my future even more so with the support that I get from you. I’m sure I will fight really, really hard for all of it.
Steffie: What are the most important values in your life?
Inten: Sincerity, and sincerity in everything, including respecting the soul of the art that is in us. Love and expressing art in the soul as we love our loved ones with sincerity.
Steffie: How does it feel to create batik pieces in your own studio space, in your batik workshop (currently under-construction)?
Inten: Really it feels so amazing. I feel free to work, and I’m more conscientious because we’re doing it for ourselves. It’s very extraordinary.
Steffie: What is your dream for the future?
Inten: I want to develop this art, especially the batik art, to a high level. I dream that this workshop will be great, famous, and useful for others. I want to prove that art is not only something to be understood, but also can be applied in our daily lives. “Thanks to Steffie….”