An important aspect of IASAS Cultural Convention is sharing the host countries culture. ISKL parents, Ms Gruia and Ms Van Den Hil certainly have brought this to the delegates through their love of fabrics, specifically batiks. A Malaysian art form where colourful patterns are printed onto cloth.
Ginger Batiks not only created the batiks hanging in the Activities Office over the convention but also the sarongs (a long Malaysian kilt, folded around the waist) the IASAS delegates were gifted this year. What makes this Batik unique is that they created an IASAS stamp to personalise it to our school community.
Talking to Ms. Gruia, she clearly has a great deal of passion for the creative culture. They use a very specific Malaysian production method called block batiks.
In 6 months this small business that sells their products at markets around KL have gone from making generic patterns to designing their own. They work closely with local artisans to retain the shape of the unique batik sarong. As both of them are not Malaysian, Gruia noted, “We might not be Malaysian. I have only lived here for three years but we are deeply, very viscerally aware of the wonderful, very rich culture of the place we’re living.”
But the story doesn’t stop there, adding an even deeper social element of the batiks is how they made them for this convention. Pakistani refugees from the UNHCR sewed the actual fabrics on the sarongs for the IASAS dancers. These women, needed employment. They have families they support, children to care for. This opportunity has allowed them to become independent workers in society.
Ms Gruia, who adds a feeling of empowerment to people around her, remarks, “We are very aware of how fortunate we are to live where we do and how we do. When we first started, we wanted to see what we could do to support and involve other women.” They were fortunate enough to be put in touch with these women who were equipped by the UNHCR with not only the equipment and a comfortable workplace but also an education on business. “We are only working with these people at a ground level as they are still growing.”
Appreciation of Ginger Batiks work by the CulCon participants embodying the pairs own appreciation for culture. The utter gratitude that exudes from the duo to be able to share their work with the people around them is nonetheless gratifying. “It speaks to being able to say yes to the universe.” Ms Gruia concludes.