Working from her studio across the fields from Whitby Abbey, Heather Gatt produces batik paintings on the finest Primissima cotton from Java. She begins by drawing her design onto the fabric in soft pencil, then painting molten wax onto all the areas to remain white, the colour of the cloth.
The fabric is then either dipped into a pale coloured dye, or painted using a large brush. The dyes are fibre-reactive (Procion) dyes, mixed with cold water and a fixative of salt and soda ash. When the pale dye dries the batik will then be white, plus the pale colour. She then waxes over the pale colour where it is to be retained. Then dip or brush on a slightly deeper shade. When that’s dry, she waxes all the areas to remain that shade. And so on. Repeating the process again and again, sometimes 20 or more times, working from the very palest tint, to the darkest brown, navy or charcoal dyes. The process is slow, working in stages, but admittedly meditative and relaxing at times, especially when using cantings (Indonesian wax pens) to apply the hot wax, they work like an old fashioned dip pen, but are filled with hot wax, rather than ink.
“My inspiration often comes from light and the way that light can dramatise, and I find painting reflections on water particularly satisfying. I see my batiks and paintings as windows into another world - a world of the imagination. They also record a moment in time, or a place as it existed when I painted it. A precious moment captured.” – Heather Gatt
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