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.