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Bangkok-born, London-based textile designer Lisa King found herself with a surprising inheritance after her Indonesian mother’s passing – 100 boxes of southeast Asian textiles, including a vast collection of batik fabrics. King had recently begun incorporating batik into her work and was faced with the dilemma of how to use her mother’s collection. Consulting with experts, she decided to ensure the fabrics had a second life rather than sitting in a box or museum. The collection, featuring sarongs, kains, and selendangs, held pieces that had been passed down through generations and were acquired by her mother on yearly trips to Indonesia.

Being given this archive of textiles raised questions for King about whether she was allowed to cut them up and repurpose them. While there were museum-worthy pieces that needed to be preserved, she wanted to ensure that the fabrics were seen and appreciated by a wider audience. Collaborating with experts from the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Indonesian Embassy, King decided to find ways to showcase the collection and prevent it from becoming a lost art only accessible to museum-goers. The fabrics held cultural significance and sentimental value for King, representing traditions passed down through her family.

The batik collection that King inherited from her mother included pieces that her grandmother and great-grandmother would have worn, adding to the emotional weight of the textiles. By consulting with experts and deciding to showcase the fabrics, King found a way to honor her mother’s legacy and continue the tradition of using batik in her work. The fabrics became a meaningful connection to her heritage and a way to pay tribute to the generations who had cherished and preserved these cultural treasures. King’s mother’s passion for collecting and preserving textiles had unknowingly provided her daughter with a valuable and impactful inheritance.

Through her collaboration with experts and decision to showcase the textiles, King was able to bring new life to her mother’s collection and ensure that the fabrics would not fade into obscurity. By making the textiles accessible to a wider audience, King was able to share the beauty and cultural significance of the batik fabrics with others. The collection became a bridge connecting past generations to the present, allowing the traditions and artistry of batik to be appreciated and celebrated by a new audience. King’s journey of discovery and preservation of her mother’s legacy through the textiles highlights the importance of honoring and continuing cultural traditions.

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