Conny Ridge is an exceptionally talented batik and ceramic artist based in North Somerset. I have been visiting her exhibitions for years and am in complete awe of her creations.
Batik is the ancient art of 'drawing' on fabric with hot wax to form a wax-resist and then using fabric dyes to 'paint' your design. It is an art form steeped in history from the Far East, originating from China.
Conny is a member of the Batik Guild and travelled to Java, Indonesia with the group to learn specialised techniques from batik masters and develop her knowledge.
You can see many of her original artworks, prints and cards at Venue 24 during North Somerset Arts Weeks which runs from 3 May until 12 May at Chelvey Church with a group she heads up: The Brockley 17 where creations begin life in her farmhouse kitchen.
Growing up in the Netherlands, Conny amalgamates childhood memories, nature and wildlife to create breathtaking artwork. Her exquisite English country cottage garden, surrounded by farms, woodland and hills is a remarkable resource for inspiration. Her garden is a living canvas!
Conny has a solo exhibition in Holland on 31 August, 7, 14 and 15 September 2019 so if you are in the country on any of those dates... pop in.
Exhibition located at: Lodewijkskerkje at Oisterwijk.
Conny says: "Batik is a complex and always fascinating art form with results often beyond your control, good or bad! It is a wonderful world to get lost in."
See Conny's portfolio of work on her website: Batik by Conny Ridge
And artwork can be purchased at her ETSY online shop
Conny runs batik and ceramic art classes in North Somerset for her regular artist groups and occasionally runs ad hoc workshops which are always fully booked! She is very popular.
I have attended two of Conny's batik days. Having majored in batik at A level and onward into art foundation, I was keen to rekindle the spirit of my late teens.
What a incredibly calming, serene experience. To sit in her warm farmhouse kitchen, cat and dogs curled up at your feet, coffee and homemade soup on tap, it felt like the most luxurious treat. Complete escapism, peace and quiet to create and rebalance the soul!
Here follows some step-by-step photos of the processes involved to create a batik, taken at workshops I attended in 2018 and 2019. Your inspiration can come from anywhere...a photo, sketch or just a notion in your head. My two sources were from a photo I took of fennel seed heads at a National Garden Scheme open day and secondly my logo.
Draw your idea to scale on paper. Thin cotton fabric is then stretched and pinned across a wooden frame. Next trace your design onto the fabric.
Batiks are built up from layers of colour starting with the lightest and moving through your colour scheme until you reach the darkest hue. Each colour is 'locked in' by painting on that area with hot wax using a metal 'chanting/tjanting' tool.
One of the final stages is painting your entire design in wax and scrunching it up into a ball, as if you are screwing it up to throw it in the bin! The fabric is then dipped in dye and the legendary batik 'crackles' seep into the cracks and create magic!
Lastly iron off all the wax to reveal your artwork under the layers.
I love the fact that the fabric takes on a life of its own. You do not have complete control with your design. The wax and dye can be quite independent at times and not always perform how you hoped but the skill is learning how to turn this to your advantage. Some of the best final pieces can evolve through 'happy accidents.'