This is a story of a trip I made in October 2014 - I know it has been a while but better late than never! This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body.
In early 2014, I impulsively wrote a message on the website of F. Widayanto, the renowned Indonesian ceramicist, asking if I could visit him to learn about Indonesian ceramics. Never could I have imagined that more than ten months later, I would be invited to his studio in Tapos, Bogor, Indonesia for two weeks of learning. I was also fortunate to gain an ArtStart grant to fund the trip.
F. Widayanto has been making ceramics for more than 30 years. He graduated from the Faculty of Arts and Design of the prestigious Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB). In his 60’s, he routinely divides his time between his three homes at the studio in Bogor, a gallery in Jakarta and a gallery house in Depok, just outside of Jakarta.
He is probably the most successful ceramic artist in Indonesia, with sold out shows and a variety of other ceramic related businesses. F. Widayanto’s sculptural works can sell for more than AUD$30,000, but he also caters for domestic needs by producing affordable tableware. He has stayed true to his Javanese heritage and style. He loves incorporating sensuality into his work but admitted that it may not be everyone’s cup of tea. He has experienced censorship with his work (some of them feature topless/scantily clad women) to the extent that at a show he was invited to participate in, his work was hidden behind a screen as it was considered too risqué.
Looking at his many colourful works, you would never have guessed that he is actually colour-blind. Luckily, he managed to overcome it using techniques taught by a friend whose father was a doctor.
What I found refreshing about F. Widayanto is his open minded view on ceramics as a business. He stated that even though ceramics is his passion, he has to make a living out of his passion.
He unabashedly calls himself a whore when it comes to his art as there is no limit to what he will do to sell his own expression of art. He makes ceramic tableware, wall installation, sculpture, indoor decorations, plumbing fittings and decorations for outdoor landscaping. He also branches out to food catering, interior design, landscape design, wedding organising and floral arrangements. Regardless of what he does, he has always managed to incorporate his own unique style and art into them.
In his opinion, an artist should be able to sell their own works, and not be confined by the ability of the gallery/agent to sell their work for them. When an artist relies too much on the gallery/agent, they can end up being steered to the whims and trends set by the gallery/agent. He freely disclosed that when he thinks of new works, he takes into consideration whether the work will be saleable. That is, whether people will like it enough to actually purchase the work.
To be continued in the next part: At the Studio of F. Widayanto - The Studio
Irine is a recipient of the Australia Council for the Arts' Artstart Grant (June 2014-2015).
This website has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts
funding and advisory body.