A portrait of Tania in batik
This is a special portrait of my sister and it took me a long time to prepare and create. The likeness is taken from different times in her life, working from many photos covering about twenty years.
Tania’s favourite colour was blue and that was the starting point for my batik portrait of her.
Initially it involved looking through lots of photographs, then making sketches and drawings, until I came up with one I was happy with.
Next I gathered inspiration from nature; flowers, butterflies and traditional batik symbology. Many batik motifs are imbued with meaning and have spiritual resonance, reflecting the culture of a deeply philosophical people.
During my trip to Java, Indonesia last year I felt I took Tania with me in ‘spirit’ and now I associate some of the Indonesian batik designs and motifs with her. I have included Kawung and Ceplok motifs as well as the Garuda wings of the Sawat motif which I have interpreted in various ways.
I wanted the portrait to express Tania’s warm loving nature so I used flowers in a symbolic way, finding her blue favourites poignantly true of her character: humility, loyalty and love, from bluebells, cornflowers and forget-me-nots. Aquilegias are associated with innocence, folly and desertion in love and in Greek mythology the iris is the link between Earth and Heaven.
The Goddess Iris guided women to heaven, her upright petals symbolising strength, faith and wisdom.
Butterflies have been and are known in many cultures and civilisations to symbolise the soul or psyche, (the Ancient Greek word for butterfly).
Native American Indians see butterflies as the souls of ancestors, lasting symbols of hope and joy, renewal and freedom.
The butterfly is also linked to the theme of rebirth, metamorphosis and new life.
For me the butterfly is about love, vulnerability, creativity and transition. They are perfect visual tools to express a spirituality that I can relate to.
These ideas and the imagery they evoked in my mind, formed the composition around Tania. It is not a background but a design which envelopes her in love, peace and spiritual flight.