Spreading Social Messages Through Batik: Fusion 14

Jul 18 2023.

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Saarah Dean Ismail, the founder of Fusion 14 is on a mission to use the artisanal craft of batik to spread social messages. Working with a team of artisans Saarah has created what is possibly Sri Lanka’s tallest batik tapestry which could be best described as a pennant sans its customary tapered edge. This creation inspired by Deen’s passion to safeguard the island’s rich cultural heritage and lend support to vital environmental conservation efforts was on display at One Galle Face over a period of a few days and garnered much interest. In the long term Deen’s hope is that this work of art can be a permanent fixture for people to be inspired by.

Q    What made you create what is possibly the longest batik decorative art?
Inspired by the exquisite heritage of batik and its intricately woven patterns, I envisioned a piece that would transcend conventional boundaries and make a lasting impact in the art world. In pushing the limits of batik art, my intention extended far beyond personal celebration. I aspired to ignite a spark of inspiration within others, urging them to boldly explore and redefine artistic norms. Moreover, this extraordinary artwork represented an embodiment of Fusion14’s unwavering commitment to addressing pressing environmental challenges.

The canvas I chose went beyond being a mere artistic creation; it became a powerful tool for spreading awareness about a cause that deeply resonated with the brand’s ethos: the plight of animal extinction and deforestation. It was a heartfelt endeavour, driven by a genuine passion to safeguard Sri Lanka’s rich cultural heritage and lend support to vital environmental conservation efforts.

Q    How long did you take to complete this?
The creation of this Batik Tapestry, from the initial design phase to the final production, took approximately 40 days to complete.

Q    How many people were involved in creating this?
A team of 21 individuals, including artisans, sewing experts, the design team, the drawing team, and various other contributors, collaborated to create this Batik Tapestry. Each member played a crucial role in bringing the artwork to life.

Q    What was the inspiration behind this?
The inspiration behind the creation of this Batik Tapestry stemmed from two main sources: the exquisite heritage art of batik and Fusion14’s commitment to sustainability and addressing social issues.

Q    What is the social message the artwork is conveying?
The artwork of the Batik Tapestry carries a powerful social message focused on the themes of animal extinction and deforestation. The tapestry has been meticulously crafted using 36 by 36-inch squares, ingeniously arranged in 4 columns and 30 rows, resulting in a total of 120 squares. Each square represents a work of art in itself, depicting various elements related to the theme, such as endangered wildlife species, the significance of plants found in the Sinharaja rainforest, and other symbolic representations related to the threats faced by our natural environment.

Q    After the display at One Galle Face what will you do with this?
Our goal is to find a suitable museum or institution where the batik tapestry can be appreciated and valued for its artistic significance. We are currently in discussions with potential venues to determine the best fit for this remarkable piece.

Q    How important is it to you personally to promote social causes through fashion and design?
Promoting social causes through fashion and design is deeply fulfilling, as it allows me to merge my passion for creativity with a purpose-driven approach. It is my personal commitment to leave a positive imprint on the world and contribute to building a more sustainable and inclusive future.

Q    As a champion of batik what steps are you taking to ensure this craft will continue?
Ensuring the continuity of batik is deeply personal to me. Firstly, we have a team of local artisans and batik experts who possess invaluable knowledge and skills. By providing them with a platform to showcase their craft, we not only support their livelihoods but also encourage the preservation of traditional techniques. We host workshops and events, our most recent event at One Galle Face also had a live batik station, to educate both the younger generation and the wider community about the significance and beauty of batik. By fostering a deeper appreciation for this art form, we inspire individuals to become custodians of batik and contribute to its continuity.

Furthermore, we are continuously exploring innovative ways to incorporate batik into contemporary fashion and design. By blending traditional aesthetics with modern trends, we aim to make batik more accessible and appealing to a wider audience, ensuring its relevance and longevity.

Q    What are the sustainability credentials of this piece?
This Batik Tapestry embodies sustainability through various aspects of its creation, particularly in the batik process itself. During the dyeing and rinsing stages, efforts were made to minimise water usage. Water-saving techniques and practices were employed to reduce the overall water footprint of the batik process. Furthermore, the production of the Batik Tapestry incorporated energy-efficient practices, such as utilising natural light and optimising equipment usage. The batik process focused on minimising waste generation. Techniques such as recycling and reusing dye baths, and proper disposal of chemical waste were employed to reduce the overall waste footprint. Lastly, The sustainable aspects of this piece extend beyond the materials and techniques used. By providing a platform for local artisans and supporting their livelihoods, the tapestry contributes to the social sustainability and economic wellbeing of the community.


Tina Edward Gunawardhana

Tina Edward Gunawardhana is a journalist specialising in travel, fashion, lifestyle, cuisine and personalities. She is also the Deputy Editor for Hi!! Magazine. An intrepid traveller, she likes to show readers the world through her eyes and experiences. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram - tinajourno [email protected]


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