After my article about studying and practicing ceramics, pottery and wood carving during the first semester at ISI Yogyakarta, it's time to post my report of the second semester. It was long due, since it's almost 2 years since I've finished Darmasiswa scholarship!
(If you want to go straight to the full gallery with my ceramics pieces click on this link)
As I already mentioned in the previous piece, academic teaching in Indonesia was really different, or at least that's what I experienced. Teachers often were not coming to ceramics classes, or if coming not really teaching. To be sincere it was different at the wood carving class, where the teacher of his assistants were always presents and helpful.
So I basically tried to make the most of it, and used the ceramics labs and learned by myself using the pottery wheel, mostly watching videos on YouTube and then practicing practicing practicing. And also thanks to the local students, that even if extremely young, some below 18 years old, were extremely skilled and coming from family running ceramics businesses for generations. It was actually surprising seeing the teacher one of the few times he came, putting one of his students to demonstrate a technique he didn't know himself! An 18 year old guy teaching an university professor, that doesn't bother to come to classes.
Even doing the learning on my own wasn't easy, because the labs sometimes were closed and then it was difficult to find the guardian and ask him to open them just for me, and each time he was quite frustrated that this foreigner was coming every day to annoy him.
But the most difficult aspect of the whole thing was firing the sculptures in the kiln: I was always put as the last place of the queue, since it was a cultural scholarship and I got no marks, so the local students had priority over me. And I can understand that. I was happy to wait since I had no deadlines, but the problem is that in the end my pieces were not fired! Some were not fired at all, so that they were extremely fragile and sensitive to water and others were fired just one time to the biscuit stage. But after I applied the glaze on them, they weren't fired the second time, so that they remained with this grossly looking surface and weird colors. So basically I couldn't see my work completed.
I felt a little bit disrespected and of course extremely frustrated because I put a lot of effort on my pieces and I was planning to give them as presents to friends remaining in Indonesia, and possibly to choose and keep only one for me as a memory of this amazing year and ship it back home, since I couldn't carry it with me for several months backpacking.
Despite all of this frustration Darmasiswa scholarship was a great experience and I had a great time in the artistic village of Kasongan where I was living. My suggestion to new students, or artists in general that would like to experience ceramics in the Indonesia, is not to have any expectation from formal education, but rather try to find a local artisan and ask him to be your mentor for a fee. Salary are really low in Indonesia, so there are good chances that it could be affordable if you are a foreigner.
If that's not an option for you, then just be proactive, and if things don't work at the university lab, just go to Kasongan ceramic village or somewhere else, and look for a kiln to rent and fire your pieces, it's not worth to wait for ever for nothing.