Let me start this blog entry with an excerpt of the foreword by Stephen King in his book Night Shift (February 27, 1977. Bridgton, Maine.)
Five months ago, I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. Motherhood is wonderful, tiring but greatly rewarding.
Ceramics is yet again lying dormant, but I feel fine about it. I've realised that I just can't force myself to make ceramics whilst taking care of a baby. It's taken a long time to get to this point (I had a tough pregnancy and was at times physically unable to do anything), but I no longer feel guilty for not creating ceramics. Priorities change.
But don't worry. Stephen King wrote about private obsessions. Ceramics is mine, Not a day goes by that I do not think of ceramics. More is yet to come!
Someone asked me the other day if I will ever just do ceramics, full time.
My short answer was no.
Why? Well, aside from the financial aspect of it (we have a mortgage), I would not want to work ceramics full time because I need the external stimulation of not working in ceramics. I quite enjoy using both the creative and non-creative sides of my brain, and knowing that my time doing ceramics is limited means that I am much more appreciative and less likely to procrastinate.
I am essentially quite a lazy person. I can, and do, spend hours in bed doing nothing and only getting up for food. I once spent 3 days in bed reading the whole collection of Twilight books.
But when I'm productive, I'm totally ON. With my ceramics activities, they are not just about making things. I consider reading on ceramic techniques, watching videos, writing blogs and going out to see the works of other ceramicists as part of my ceramics working time.
Of course there have been times when I wish I was doing ceramics full time, especially when deadlines are looming! But my job has enabled me to progress so much in my ceramics, even if it's taken longer. I don't regret the long journey as that means I have been able to set myself up thoughfully.
But hey... I keep an open mind, so let's check back in a few years and see what my answer will be then.
By the way, I am sooo excited about the upcoming Australian Ceramics Triennale - Stepping Up - to be held in Canberra from 9-11 July 2015. More information on their website: www.australianceramicstriennale.com.au
I've booked my leave from work, got an early bird registration (hurry, it's still on offer) and booked my accommodation too. All set and ready. I know it's still a while to July, but gauging from how things have been for the past 3 weeks since I returned to work, I think time will fly.
After about two weeks working in the studio, I realised that I needed a new table. The old one was bent in the middle (probably the result of slapping heavy clay on it for so many years). So off I went with the husband to Ikea on a weeknight to look for a table. Luckily we managed to get one straight away without having to shop around. My new table is called Bekant Desk and I got one in white because it is easier to hide the clay marks.
So along with the new table I started working on a new piece of work. Can I just say that making new work is freaking scary?! I mean, all the doubts, all the self-questioning... does it look good? Am I doing it right? Does it even look like what I want it to look like...
At work, most of my work is project based: research/business analysis, planning/proposal/budget, kick off, development, testing, retesting, launch, post-launch support etc. And I think I was trying so hard to apply that to my ceramics at the beginning, and when it didn't work out as planned, I grew frustrated.
One of the things I think I had forgotten about ceramics is that I need to be really patient about it. There's no point rushing things when the clay is still too wet and soft, cause then it will just stick everywhere. And also I can't leave things to dry for too long, cause then it will just crack.
So here's my latest work... it's quite small, and it's inspired by the Australian native flower Rock Thryptomene.
I have been to so many wonderful places in the past few days.
I have visited Pasar Rawabening, a market that specialises in precious and semi precious stones, where I had a beautiful necklace of freshwater pearls made.
Went to the Jakarta Contemporary Ceramics Biennale where I was amazed and very proud of the quality of Indonesian ceramics.
I visited the Museum of Art and Ceramics in central Jakarta and visited the old town part of Jakarta.
I visited an art market and delightfully purchased a real, antique bronze batik stamp tool.
I stumbled upon a mobile library bus and went to a shop that sells many wonderful things that I can utilise for ceramics!
Unfortunately technology has failed me and I'm unable to connect my laptop to a decent internet connection. Stay tuned to more in depth writing next week where I will have access to the internet. (this is written via my mobile app-which is very limited)
In about three weeks' time, I will hopefully be fully immersed in the Tapos studio of the famous Indonesian ceramicist, F. Widayanto.
Although this arrangement was made in January this year, I have not written much about it due to the special circumstances surrounding this. I guess it would be better to explain from the very beginning.
Earlier this year, I pondered about where I was going with my ceramics. I have had a pretty good show recently, so the interest on my work does exist and perhaps I am not so bad after all.
One of the last series I worked on was the Mbok Jamu, the traditional Indonesian women selling herbal drinks. I created that work as an expression of my identity as an Indonesian living in Australia. But I wanted to further explore and incorporate my Indonesian heritage into my art work because to me, Indonesia is home - just like Australia is home to me too.
Researching online on Indonesian ceramics, I stumbled upon the website of F. Widayanto (www.fwidayanto.com). I was amazed at his works, his techniques and dedication to his Javanese influenced artworks. I researched a little more and found an article where he gave an interview to Jakarta Global for TEDX (http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/archive/my-jakarta-f-widayanto-ceramics-artist), I really liked that he said artists should never give up. And artists should also create their own signature characteristic. I fully agree with him.
So I wrote a message on his website and asked if I could learn from him while I am in Indonesia. To my surprise I actually got a reply-saying that I can only take classes with F. Widayanto's assistants. So I explained my intentions and was invited to write an email proposing to learn from F. Widayanto. I wrote the email (in Indonesian!). Took me 3 hours to draft it with the help of Google translate, then I sent it to my friend Dennis to review first. Finally when it was ready to send, I included some images of the Mbok Jamu, my CV and a link to this website with the email.
So then the good news came! F. Widayanto himself replied and agreed! I was over the moon. He invited me to come to his studio in Tapos, Bogor. He divides his time between the studio in Tapos, house in Setiabudi and house in Depok. So while he is in Tapos, between Wednesdays-Saturdays, I can come, observe and assist him at work.
In hindsight, if I had known at that time how highly regarded F. Widayanto is in the Indonesian arts scene, I probably would not have been so brazen. Talking to some Indonesian friends about this have resulted in surprised exclamations to the tune of, "OMG how did you manage to do that? He's f@#$ing famous!".
Anyways, once that was sorted I spent the next months arranging leave from work, getting my sister in law and Mum to buy me some of F. Widayanto's books from Jakarta, finding out the kind of accommodation available in Bogor and flights.
And as if the universe was encouraging me on this journey, I got the Artstart Grant! I am using the grant to help with some of the transportation and accommodation costs.
So here I am, a few weeks away from the trip of a lifetime. I will be blogging about it regularly. And before I go I will also write about F. Widayanto's books that I have read, they are amazing!
ps: Here's a shout out to Audrey M. who is probably my youngest reader ever! Hope you're enjoying your school holiday!
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.