What’s New Indonesia recently spent a lovely afternoon with Anny Soerjanto,  the lady behind Whispers on the Grasslands, an art exhibition exposing Ikat, a traditional textile from Sumba island, East Nusa Tenggara.

Have you always been interested in Indonesian textiles?

 Yes. Since I was a little girl, my grandmother’s batik collection has always made me feel a little giddy. I even pay very close attention to how she looks after it all.

I was a science nerd at school, and studied computer programming. But somehow, my passion kept calling out for me. I worked in fields based on my degrees before, but it was only when I started to take care of the boutique at Padma Resort that I realized I had found my dream job.

What have been the most interesting trends in the fashion retail industry the past decade?

They say fashion comes and goes but style remains forever. And that is what I see in the fashion industry, worldwide – including Bali. A classic, traditional style will always find its way to return from time to time.

The aim of the exhibition is to showcase Indonesian heritage. Why Ikat?

Simply because I love it. The making of Ikat is a story that one can tell: its complexity, rich colours, and unique designs based on human, animals, and plants. Not many people know that the weavers use traditional natural dying technique rooted in their culture. To obtain maroon red, they use the root of morinda citrifolia, while the colour blue is obtained from the leaves of indigo tinctoria. The bark of ceriops tagal creates an ochre colour, and the bark of maclura chochinchinensis makes a yellow colour. It takes months, sometimes years to produce one piece. This process fascinates me the most.


What prompted the timing of this exhibition?

We only had the opportunity to do it now, although it has been on my mind for a while. And I would love to do it again one day.

Is there any particular message you’d like to convey in the exhibition?

We are happy to exhibit at Padma Resort Legian. The resort is well-known for making art an essential part of the resort through interior designs, landscapes, several events and many more. Our aim is to showcase Indonesian heritage – especially Ikat – to Padma Resort Legian’s guests that visit from all over the world.

Did you handpick all the Ikat being exhibited? How did you choose which designs and patterns?

Yes. I picked them based on the detailing of their patterns. So you’ll see ones that are quite simple, and ones that are very full on with small patterns and different textures too.

How easily cared for are your products?

Handwash them using a mild soap.

What kind of events can you wear IKAT to?

Cocktail events, wedding receptions, and gala dinners.


Do you have a fair-trade policy as a part of the branding, or in place with your suppliers?

My source, Mr. Kornelis, works closely with the weavers. Each piece is labeled with the corresponding weaver’s name so the money goes directly to them. That is something I believe in as a best practice, ensuring the weavers get their fair amount from their hard-earned pieces.

Batik or Ikat?


Kutu baru or Balinese lace?

Balinese lace style.

Lurik or Songket?


Traditional pattern or contemporary?

Traditional pattern. It has more emotional value for me.

Editor’s Note: Whispers on the Grasslands is being held at Padma Resort Legian from November 25th 2018 to February 19th 2019. For more information, please contact: sarasvati.exhibition@padmahotels.com or call +62 812 3771 0303


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