Fern Chua looks set to present her own take on batik to the world. The Malaysian designer, who hand paints batik and designs contemporary womenswear with the textile, will appear in a global British Council campaign.
Titled Crafting Futures, it brings together craft practitioners, designers and organisations from around the world to explore possibilities of building a positive future by unlocking the craft’s unique potential.
Aiming to inspire, the annual campaign is also a programme that celebrates the value of craft in our history, culture and world today.
According to the British Council website, it aims to empower women in the crafts sector in South-east Asia by providing inclusive opportunities through design and creative enterprise development to help increase their social and economic well-being and revitalise their cultural assets.
Representing Malaysia and the beautiful craft of batik, Chua is one of six people selected from around the world – including Mexico, Thailand, the Philippines, UK, Romania and of course, Malaysia – to participate in this initiative.
Crafting Futures is currently active in South-east Asia, South Asia, Latin America and Europe.
"It is truly a great honour and a proud achievement to be recognised, and to represent Malaysia, in my craft in batik – to have this great opportunity to promote Malaysia’s culture and heritage through this local art form," Chua commented.
"Batik has different meanings and perception to different people. This can sometimes also create stigmas which leads to a never-ending debate and critiques. To break out of that, I always feel that art itself should not be confined to what is black and white. I choose to stick to my own beliefs – preserving the craft while modernising the design based on my own inspiration."
She believes that batik is more than a heritage. Her ready-to-wear designs are nevertheless well-received for being modern, yet steeped in nuances of culture.