After the batik making workshop this week here at Babaran Segaragunung Culture House (BSG), talk is on the table to meet up later with newly made workshop friends Kay and Suranto. The thought is to meet up at the opening of the Adelaide Perry Prize for Drawing in Sydney, where a series of my drawings of wombats from my last residency (at Bundanon) are rising from their burrows deep in my studio back home so they can hang out in the mix of all the others works from elsewhere. I look forward to both.
But for my last weekend in Indonesia, I have taken a solo trip from Jogja through Solo to Candi Sukuh at the foothills of Gunung Lawu. It is a 15 Century temple I have heard much about during this time at BSG.
As the mist rapids in, I think of the ‘unseen’ and intangible world and the rich stories of Bima from the Mahabharata Sanskrit epic, depicted in the stone relief in front of me (that is the logo for BSG and in this image above). I focus here on my exegesis for this ACICIS program, Breathing Furniturewhere I write:
“… My drawings also began to morph from their initial plein air searchings to integrating creature shadows suggestive of the kancil, the endemic Java mouse deer (Tragulus javanicus). With its cleverness painted in Indonesian fables, I sought the kancil out at Gembira Loka Zoo, Jogjakarta. In learning that this creature is also categorised as “Data Deficient” due to lack of information of its status on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List, I think it fitting that the kancil became just a shadow in my work. Creature shadows occupied my mind through the wayang kulit shadow puppet shows with their morphing of characters such as the Giant Kala Marica who assumes the form of the beautiful golden deer through the Sanskrit epic of Ramayana as experienced at Sonobudoyo Museum, Jogjakarta. With many morphing of the chairs’ shadows, I am also reflecting upon the connectedness of nature and culture in Javanese philosophy …”
There is some reflection happening and no doubt much more of this will come in the months ahead. This ACICIS Creative Arts and Design Professional Practicum has been a great opportunity for me to be mentored by extraordinary established international artists and work collaboratively in this cross-cultural setting at BSG. My engagement skills have been refined and my outlook massaged by my learnings attained through the sharing of Javanese philosophies at BSG. I am grateful for this growth experience and I hope to integrate these learnings within my life and practice as an artist. I have been left with a deep respect for all those at BSG and hope there has been mutuality in this exchange. I look forward to ongoing creative connections born of this time.
With this practicum coming to an end, I have a sense of joy that my Honours year at University of New South Wales will be complete. The plan for the next chapter is to just to stay put for quite a bit with my loves at home and creatively outpour my learnings and reflections from my Honours year and ACICIS program. I look forward to being back home with my people and creatures and I’m thankful for them joining me on the beginning of this tale. So with this chapter closing in, big thanks go to all at BSG especially Nia, Ismoyo, Ika, Fina and Ibi. Thanks to ACICIS and Universitas Sanata Dharma especially Elly, Oci and Dhea and all in the Sanata Dharma Language Centre and the cohort too - it has been awesome to be on this journey will you all. And thanks to the New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant.
It was not until this week, my fourth week here that the air cleared and I realised the view from my balcony at Babaran Segaragunung Culture House sees directly to Mount Merapi. Excited, I walked back up the road. It’s a trek worn before, by the morning walk, saying hello and enthusiastically answering questions in my Bahasa Indonesian (born from the terrific intensive language learning stint at Universitas Santa Dharma as part of the ACICIS program) to locals out and curious of my being here. I make it to the rice field views of Merapi and once more, I pose for the obligatory group shots and selfies that I am randomly included in again. Only a few days after this image above was snapped, I woke to the news that Merapi had erupted again. It was hardly noted by those from these parts. And I write in my last ACICIS program Reflective Journal, Week 4 submission other impressions too:
“Through this internship / residency I have become more attuned to nature and culture and their oneness. Some of my impressions of this place have included the aesthetics of the dragonfly posed on the wall behind Ismoyo as creative process ideas are shared; the chorus of the frogs competing with the layered sermons of the three mosques encompassing; the chirps of the feasting flock of white-bellied munia or pipit padi interrupted by the bells and bellowing of the rice paddy worker; the belly of Mount Merapi under me as the unidentified four explosion like sounds suspend my late night writing; the plop of fish back in the lotus pond below meeting the hooves on the pavement ahead; the wind encountering the windchimes as the nangka, jackfruit crashes to the motorbike ensemble; Pigeon collecting the weave from the basket for the dubious nest balanced on the turtledoves cage roof; the lightning lit sky illuminating the dance of the microbats over the batik clearing; and as the gecko barks loud from the eaves, my sleep takes over readying me for the nongkrong of tomorrow.”
Each weekend I head out to experience more in Jogja and beyond. The street art is incredible. Do check out the work of the local, international artist Anagard: https://www.picuki.com/profile/anagard_stcl
Above is an image taken in the historic Taman Sari area of central Jogja, where I spied this 2018 ripper by fellow Australian Westhepants, Sesuatu yang bisa mengontrol which translates to ‘some things you can control’.
And I’ve been hanging out in nongkrong style with students from here and home – such good times – thanks all. It’s my new favourite word and doing. Like the Angkringan I wrote about earlier, it’s part of the make-up of this place, and is all about socially being, taking time and connecting.
A must read is Sonja Dahl’s Nongkrong and Non-Productive Time in Yogyakarta’s Contemporary Arts http://parsejournal.com/article/nongkrong-and-non-productive-time-in-yogyakartas-contemporary-arts/
The artists and thinkers coming here to Babaran Segaragunung Culture House (BSG) are diverse. It’s a hive of activity with the weekly cultural study groups, the English language group, the interns, the artist who just turns up and the artists coming daily to make batik. Such a privilege to get to know a little of so many of the artists here as part of my internship project and see some of their incredible work. With Desmond W. S. Anabrang, it’s a treat to work together on some studio photography of textiles; and how to get a good shot in daylight too. I’m also on the computer colour matching images to their textiles. You can see some of the textiles created for Baragung, the support system for BSG here: https://baragung.com/collections
I continue with my daily drawings. And I am beginning to see how I am being influenced by this place, its people and stories. My charcoal sketches metamorphose from their plein air stance to incorporating shadow play. Through experiencing the wayang kulit, shadow puppet show at the Sonobudoyo Museum; in thinking about the Javanese philosophies of connectedness of nature and culture; and from my zoo journey checking out the kancil, the Javanese mouse deer, kancil like shadows are appearing in the shadow plays of my sketches of the charismatic furniture of this place. My first little shadow performance from a stool drawn here is captured in the image above.
Rambutan is being consumed in excess too. It’s my favourite fruit of the moment, but more than that, their dried skins will be used to make a natural dye for the batik textiles here. I can’t wait to use the dye too, as a fluid ground for my sketches to come.