Nursjirwan Tirtaamidjaja, also known as Iwan Tirta, is one of the Indonesia's most celebrated batik artists and designers. His collections are well-known and so are his boutiques, extravagant fashion shows, and fabric designs. Alm. Iwan Tirta is often credited with introducing Indonesia batik to the rest of the world.
Alm. Iwan Tirta studied at the London School of Economics and Yale Law School. His love for batik blossomed when he won a research grant from The John D. Rockerfeller III Fund. Alm. Iwan Tirta embarked on a research project into the sacred dances of the Susuhunan of Surakarta Royal Court. There, surrounded by the life of Central Java Courts, he nurtured his newfound interest in Javanese fabric. His interest was stimulated by his mother's batik collection, which included some of Indonesia's best batiks.
He soon recognized the importance to document and preserve the arts and crafts of batik. He undertook the responsibility to record the evolution of batik and spent weeks in the museums, towns and villages collecting samples and tracing the art's origin and development.
The second stage of his "batik consciousness" culminated in 1966 when he completed a book called Batik Pattern and Motifs, detailing the historical and sociological aspects of batik.
Alm. Iwan Tirta has successfully taken Batik to a new level. Elements of design were reconstructed, revived, and brought up-to-date, thus keeping batik's existence in Indonesia as well as in the world.
His sumptuous and contemporized yet traditional design have appeared in the pages of international magazine such as Voque, Harper's Bazaar, Architecture's Digest, New York Times, Asia Weeks, National Geographic and others.
His loyal admirers are ranging from every level of the society, including the aristocracy and royalty. He has staged exhibitions and fashion shows for Indonesia's first ladies and for the Indonesian government, showcasing his collections for visiting heads of state and royal members such as Queen Elizabeth II, Queen Sophie of Spain, Queen Juliana of Netherland and Bill Clinton.
He has also presented special and custom-designed Batik for each heads of state that came for the Asia Pacific Economic Conference held in Jakarta in 1994.
Also Both Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton have wore Batik design from Alm. Iwan Tirta on formal state occasions. And mostly recently, Alm. Iwan Tirta was asked to design batik attires for George W. Bush and his wife.
In fact, Nelson Mandela was also so charmed with batik that he considered batik design of Alm. Iwan Tirta as de rigueur. He insisted on foregoing the traditional morning coat in favor of a batik shirt when he was called by Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace. Nelson Mandela also wore batik when he met the elder George Bush in the Oval room in Washington, D.C.
Politicians were not the only fans of Batik design from Alm. Iwan Tirta, but also the International celebrities like Roger Moore was inspired by his masterpieces of Indonesian royal art.
In later years there were difficult times as well - financial wrangles and illness, including several strokes - but he always soldiered on. He branched out to put batik motifs on ceramics and silverware, and still got around with his cane.
He passed away at July 31, 2010 at the age of 75. He died due to complications affecting his major organs.
Once he said the following: "I sound like a needle stuck in the groove of a record, but it's so important to do this. People won't realize until it's too late, when they ask, *Oh did we have those things?' We cannot move forward without preserving our past."
The art maestro was apparently also bequeathed 6000 designs batik to PT. Pusaka Iwan Tirta that will be keep the heritage from Alm. Iwan Tirta and always keep spirit to serve the community who loves Alm. Iwan Tirta design..