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My ceramics working table and sculpture in progress created with daily life toolsMy ceramics working table and sculpture in progress created with daily life tools

What am I doing in Indonesia? That's probably what most of my friends and family members are wondering. This time is not only about travelling, but also about exploring the artistic side of my personality that I've never had the chance to fully acknowledge. Our 1 year scholarship called Dharmasiswa is providing us a small allowance that wouldn't be enough in Italy to pay for the household bills, but here it's enough to cover all of our expenses, so that we can focus on learning. It's been 4 months now since we arrived in Indonesia, 3 of which studying Seni Kriya (handicrafts) in Yogyakarta where our University is located, the famed ISI (Indonesian Art Institute). Rhythms and methods here are really different than western world and it's not easy to get accustomed. Many classes were intended for students to work on their own projects without any help from the teachers, while we were expecting to first learn the techniques. The first two months were almost completely unproductive, while in the last month, when I started to practice by myself even where teachers where not helpful, I saw many accomplishments.

I had the biggest surprise from modelling clay, not only a way to express my art, but also a form of meditation. In the past had the chance to do some Ceramics in Middle School, but that was over 20 years ago.

My second study subject has been Wood Carving. When I came here I thought it was going to be my main focus: since I was a kid I was saying that I wanted to be a wood worker, and now it was the occasion to get closer to that statement. The wood carving style I had the chance to practice in the first semester was to carve ornaments out of flat pieces of wood. Not my favourite since I'm more into the sculptural side: the teachers though, where the best we had so far at ISI Yogyakarta.

I also tried to do some Batik, the traditional Indonesian way of painting textile with the use of wax and colours. But the total absence of support from the teachers and a relatively little interest from my side, brought me to no big results.

At the very end of the Seni Kriya semester we were able to catch just for 2 sessions the class of "Weaving" where I made a purse out of the peel of Banana trunk.

Since images speak better than words, here a selection of the pieces I produced in these months, divided into categories: Ceramics, Wood Carving, Weaving.


We had to choose a theme and produce 5 pieces on the same subjects: I obviously choose travelling and in particular my experience and feelings.
The very first piece I produced, wanted to represent freedom. A face on purpose without feature to symbolize every traveller, with the hair in the wind. I wanted the hair to be longer but I had to face for the first time also some structural limits of clay: no long, thin, easily breakable pieces, and no big bulky part if not hollowed.

I was eventually satisfied of the result, looking a little bit like a "Medusa" and this gave me the energy to keep going.

Traveller with the hair in the wind: front viewTraveller with the hair in the wind: front view


Traveller with the hair in the wind: back viewTraveller with the hair in the wind: back view

 Next one was some kind of bas-relief I wanted to create after a photo of my travel in Nepal in 2010. While traveling I always establish a close relation with local kids that have no social barrier and need no common language to get close to you. So I wanted to dedicate one of my pieces to them. This was the hardest one because I had to deal with the human face. So first I had to study human proportions using Youtube and then to practice creating faces. In the piece itself it's possible to see the difference between the first figure I created, the one on the right side that is looking quite flat, and the last one, the kid on my left that looks more proportioned, dynamic and coming out of the artwork.

Basrelief after a travel picture with kidsBasrelief after a travel picture with kids

The third one is my personal favourite, and it's representing the relation between travels and environmental awareness. A "No face" traveller sitting desperate on a cut trunk that can't receive and give energy anymore to the globe. But there is an hidden positive message: the stick of the backpack is starting to germinate leaves as a metaphor of a new world based on the mentality of a traveller. Also in this case I had to solve some technical issue, creating my first sphere with coils and hollowing everything.

Clay sculpture: travels and environmental awarnessClay sculpture: travels and environmental awarness


Traveller sitting on a cut trunk: artwork for Seni Kriya, Isi YogyakartaTraveller sitting on a cut trunk: artwork for Seni Kriya, Isi Yogyakarta

The last two pieces I had to make really in a hurry because the semester was almost over. The 4th artwork is representing my mania of photographing everything: a whirlpool is coming out of the lens and sucking everything inside. The camera was build with the technique of the slabs.

Clay artwork: photography and travelsClay artwork: photography and travels


Back view of my ceramic camera sucking the surroundingsBack view of my ceramic camera sucking the surroundings

The last ceramic piece is a Bird, Turtle, UFO, with only one thing in it globe brain-eye: travelling.

Only one thing in mind: travellingOnly one thing in mind: travelling

Wood Carving

The first piece we produced is a local ornament printed on a sheet of paper and glued on top of the wooden board as a guideline to carve the wood. After several classes of work, here the final result.

Indonesia ornament, wood carving, Seni KriyaIndonesia ornament, wood carving, Seni Kriya 

The second one is an ornament I quickly designed, representing palms and trees connected to one single core. It was really helpful to do this piece after my own design, because I learned of the limitations of the wood prone to break off if the pieces are too small. It still need a little bit of work before being completed.

Wood carving at ISI Yogyakarta: palms and treesWood carving at ISI Yogyakarta: palms and trees


And to finish my first semester portfolio, the purse I made in two sessions using the peel of the banana bark. The technique was quite easy to learn and the result appealing, but the work a little bit monotonous.

Purse made with the peel of banana barkPurse made with the peel of banana bark

Davide VadalàDavide Vadalà
In 2009 I quit my job to chase my dream of exploring our planet in a sustainable way and I haven't stopped yet. I love nature, sustainability, travel photography, handicrafts and hiking, and I never stop dreaming. More about Davide Vadala'.

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Davide and Oti

We are Davide and Otilia, two friends with itchy feet, living a non conventional life traveling around the world and learning everyday something new....
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