Intricacies of batik

They keep saying “batik,” not to be confused with “petite” – which it sounds like – because the artwork is large and very intricate.

A Google search confirms that the word is, in fact, “batik,” which sets the entire night into motion.

It’s the opening of Robert McKendrick’s work titled Solo – a look at various eye-catching subjects using the batik style – at Arteccentrix fine art gallery at Governor’s Square on Seven Mile Beach in West Bay.


Batik refers to an ages-old technique using wax and dyes on cloth.

The layman might think Grateful Dead fans sporting tie-dyed shirts are skilled in the ways of batik – similar, but not really.

“I put different dyes on the cloth, rinse, then see a design emerging, then draw a design around that, then wax,” McKendrick says. “And I use a tool the size of a fountain pen, most of the time being very meticulous.”

McKendrick Scottish accent is all but gone because of travels to and living in Canada, Jamaica, Trinidad and now Cayman.

He describes his current work as “something out of his imagination.”

“I have to have something that really speaks to me,” he says, adding that he’s done many works that end up in a drawer because they don’t resonate with him.

Fans and friends

McKendrick is a unique artist, an expert in his craft of batik, and the owners of Arteccentrix – Maurice “Mo” Snell and Nickola McCoy – know it.

“We try to work with artists that have a willingness to work together,” Mo says. “We’ll keep those artists.”

Roger Hendrickson has run a trust company with McKendrick for over twenty years.

“He’s been around for a while,” Hendrickson says. “He’s very talented.”

The crowd doubles in size, with everyone grabbing at McKendrick’s arm for a moment to chat.

While sipping on red wine, McKendrick smiles brightly while answering questions about his art, his inspiration, his work.

And every time he says it, “batik” still sounds like “petite.”


Expert batik artist Robert McKendrick.
Photo: Brian Wright