Friday, 16 March 2012

The 7th tree, and the one that smells.

3 Weeks of Rizal and Ellie Madness, Music and Creation!

It was time to leave Jogja, and catch the train to Cirbon West Java to meet up with my friend Rizal ma nizal. I met Rizal in Bali through my friend Jonas, at an art exhibition, i had just arrived after a ferry ride from lombok, very sunburnt and wearing my nanna flanno, he said i looked like another bloody tourist. I was just super tired! But first impressions aside we actually got along really well (especially when i found his bag full of crazy percussion instruments he carries everywhere with him) Rizal is a fellow Troubadour that wanders and wonders around Indonesia island hopping with his guitar, creating music for the masses, provoking thought with his lyrics, sharing, learning and asserting justice for those unheard communities.With a voice that needs no microphone and a laugh that tickles. Thankyou in advance for the adventurres Rizal Abdulhadi.

The train ride was interesting, funny and long, what can you really expect for a 9 hour trip that costs $3.50… well you can expect copious offerings of ‘NASI’, ‘COPI’, ‘AQUA’, random Indonesian books, hair combs, coconut soup spoons, fans, soap, cowboy hats and toothbrushes to be placed on your lap and taken back 10 minutes later, buskers roaming the hallways, and too many stops. It wasn’t a bad trip though, I found entertainment playing cards in the carriage gap with some teenage boys returning from watching a soccer match, sharing coffee and smoking kretek, the delicious clove cigarette of south east asia.

Arriving 1 in the morning, Rizals friend Tedi met me and we headed to Jatiwangi by bus, we were picked up from the main road by Riz and Dicka who greeted me with Happpyyy Birthdayyy singing, I had only remembered it was my birthday 10 minutes prior, this was really sweet, gave me a big smile through my tired eyes and I knew that I had made the right decision to come here.
My birthday spent with a wonderful sleep in, wandering around the art factory, playing with the local clay and having a long needed skype with my family, and Newcastle skype party with friends. This made me so happy!

Jatiwangi Art Factory is a place of magnificent creation. Jatiwangi (scented tree) is a village in west java that is one of the largest producers of roof tiles in Java. This art space encompasses all, family home, tile factory, art gallery, office, radio station, space for local and international artists practicing freedom of art and music experimentation.
The factory is big and they have a kiln the size of a house! Any ceramic artists dream come true. I was blown away, and still remain to be.
Artists in residence from all around the world come here to partake in an artwork with the community. Due to the large emphasis on mass production and tough work ethic, the villagers have quite a work, eat, sleep lifestyle, and the Art factory wishes to use art and music to create culture, fun, freedom and something out of the norm for the local people. Also to promote awareness, the clay is from the local rice fields and an unrenewable resource. By creating artworks, musical instruments, workshops with the clay, it gives the clay a different purpose other than that for ‘practical’ uses and money.

Jatiwangi family
the roof tile kiln!
Shelf upon shelf of tiles

Originally I had planned on staying here for a couple of days and then head onto Sumatra, however plans changed per usual with a little bit of nudging from someone and as an unofficial resident I was staying here off and on for the next 3 or so weeks. What a productive 3 weeks it was!
It was great to have such a creative time spent here, I am constantly craving creation, collaboration with other artists, working on projects or just anything manual that clicks your mind into gear and gets you thinking methodically. The past 2 months seemed to be pure travel, which I enjoyed, but it was good to be practically applying my artistic energy that was overflowing, and it has inspired me to do it more so.

The first couple of days were spent playing with the delicious clay and making some musical shakers, rolling around the streets seeing the place and helping teach an English lesson at the school.

12th Feb- Rizal and I rolled into a close village named Jatituju (7th tree). We partook in a longer than expected bike ride to a ‘close’ village Majalenka. It was about a 5 hour ride in the sun on some of the best looking bicycles I’ve seen in a while, we were going to an Ontel meeting, to compare, check out and celebrate these beautiful vintage bikes. I was the only foreigner attending and treated like a princess, front seat row, eating with the Ontel elders and too many photographs to feel comfortable, it was a fun ride but the festa was too much, leaving with a sore mouth from posing for pics we all piled into a truck home.
That night we met at Hujan Keruh studio and I held a drawing workshop. This was fun, but challenging, trying to teach a class where Rizal had to translate everything I instructed or commented on. Over the next couple of weeks the people that attended this became good friends of mine, and although I could not understand most of what was said, I knew their personalities, and charachteristics, and appreciated each of them individually.

The Hujan Keruh
Ontel bikes, so good looking!
On the road
Leader of the pack
Makan studio Hujan Keruh
13th Feb- We woke early and went to SMP dua, a school that our friend and music guru Om Ketut worked at, Rizal did a music class where he composed a song with the students and I did a drawing class where we made some crazy album covers for the song they made. Rizal is amazing at interacting with the students, and people in general, and it made me really happy to see these young teenagers singing at the top of their lungs and cheering each other on even though the windows outside were lined with other students looking in. I thought about back at school in Australia, and I remember at this age everyone being too embarrassed or trying to be too cool to just have fun. That’s something that I really love about Indonesian people, they love music, singing and having fun with it, its so good for the spirit. There is no distancing, all created and enjoyed together…SEMANGAT!

14th Feb- We had an adventure filled day, cruising up the cold mountain near Majalenka to go to a gushng waterfall, passing many rural villages with hills covered in vegetables of all kinds stretched out in rows like colourful Christmas lights. And heading back to Majalenka in the rain mid afternoon to see a friends band release their new album “summer of soul”. A creative performance with lots of colour and sweet melodic tunes that set a beautiful mood.

15th Feb- Today was spent in Jatiwangi at the art factory and a very fun art performance undertaken. After running to the local paint shop and buying about 10 litres of paint for $10 (WOW) we went back to prepare for some paint and music madness. For a few days Rizal and I had been talking about doing a music art piece where I would paint the music made, I had no idea what to expect and when rusted corrugated iron, ceramic tile percussion, drums, chimes, shakers and brooms were lining the room, I knew it was going to be an erratic time. The performance lasted 30 minutes, 10 minutes painting, 10 minute break, and another 10 minutes to finish. I’ve never painted like this in my life and it felt so natural to just paint to the music. My hearing was really accentuated, I could tune in and out of different beats and rhythms being played, and the placement of colour and action of mark making originated from a different part of me. Beben did some filming and after worked on a short documentary film of the piece. It was great fun and got completely mental at times, I would love to do more works like this. Thankyou to all involved, Rizallll, Tedi, Denny, Beben, Fitri, the boys, the people clay!!

the white wall!

10 crazy minutes later

finished work
the crew

a t-shirt i made for denny the drum player

This is the video of the performances, check it out if interested!

17th Feb- Basing ourselves in Jatituju at the bamboo house of padadan, Riz and I went to the school Padadan is Principle of to do some art and music workshops today, along with Om Ketut and Bisma who were doing some bamboo batik workshops. Again it was fun creating in a different environment where English was not spoken, the students did some great drawings of crazy birds and composed a song about community spirit.
Also went to Jatiwangi this night to watch a music performance by a fellow troubadour who is traveling around South East Asia on bike playing music.

Ibu and Padadan in the bamboo shack
The beautiful children of Jatituju

18th Feb- Today a crew of us went to CINTAKARYA, a village about 40 minutes from Jatituju. This village is set on land that is now to be used for an International airport. The people of this place strong spirited and independent minded are now faced with the reality of one day in the unknown future being kicked off their land for a small land payment, that may not suffice the amount for a new house in an unknown district. Protesting against this went on for a few years, but the case has been lost, and the villagers now await the day they must move. It’s a sad reality to lose their homes in which their families have lived for generations. I seem to come across this a lot along travels in Australia and abroad. The governments constant hunger for land for money. The greed is toxic and it makes me sick.

Love Village

junk percussion, polypipe didgreidoo :)
19th Feb- We head to Bandung with Giwa and Jul. Today Rizal and I decide that we are going to record an EP album in Bandung, ‘its easy’ he says, but for me maybe not so easy, ive never seen myself as musically talented, I can appreciate it, but create it, I just don’t know.

20th Feb- Today we went on a drive around Bandung, a really beautiful city, located in the crater of an ancient extinct volcano. This place is full of greenery and it actually has a law where every household has to have a certain amount of plants and buy a new plant for each child in the family born. Many activists fighting to keep the land that still is forested, and also planting in new regions where old building have been knocked down. Staying at friend Giwas house, with his overly generous family and friends was a good place to chill out. This night Rizal performed at a cultural event held in Kubun Sini Taman Sari, a fun cultural event set in an art, performance, theatre, music centre near the zoo here.
Art exhibition opening Taman Sari
21st Feb- Giwa, Gilang, Kalis, Rizal and I drove to Tabuban Prahu today, a volcano on the outskirts of Bandung, we arrived and moved the fog away with our breath to reveal the awe inspiring crater within. Walking around to look from various perspectives, through the small tin and tarp roofed market place, eating too many fried things and drinking sweet ginger, lemongrass tea, it felt refreshing to be cold and need a jumper, too bad that the air smelt like rotten egg from the sulphur, the coolness was ever so tempting a deep breath!
After constant nagging from Rizal and co. I was forced to sing! Forced! Riz wanted a film clip of us singing our first written song up here in the knotted trees, we had only jammed maybe 3 times so after constant haggle I obliged. Its times like these that I realize how shy I really can be.

The grandma and the crater

Rizal, Gilang and Kalis. 3 trouble causing boys.

Gorengan, lets fry everything (indonesias motto and i like it)
This is the video recording of bumps........ weeeeeeeee

22nd Feb- Today we recorded our EP at Rizs friends studio ‘POHACI’, what a crazy release, I was so nervous but it actually made me so happy and was a lot of fun. We were still practicing the songs in the recording studio that is how unplanned it was. A few takes and the guitar was recorded then it was time for me to sing. It went well even if i was yelling at rizal a little bit angry at him for a short time, because he was ' making' me sing. But i am glad he pushed me because singing should be something people are not frightened to do. DONT SHY

Rizal in the painting

24th Feb- Today we made the cover for the CDs. I did some drawings and rizal did the design work, wanting to print on something cheap and brown of colour, we decided to use nasi paper, the brown paper that you are given when you order takeaway food at a warung. Its waterproof on one side and printable on the other, so it was the perfect thing to use, and looks super cooool! We had fun cutting, pasting, and copying.
This evening we went to the Taman sari cultural centre again and watched music and poetry performance. Seeing some of the Java master musicians playing guitar, drums, and an amazing performance on violin. We then hopped in the car and returned to Jatituju late that night.

Ganj on guitar despite his illness, semangat!!
25th Feb- This was to be a big busy day, and it was in a way. The celebration of 1 year anniversary of Hujan Keruhs studio space. The daytime events were drawing competition of local kids, english news competition, and some music from me and riz. Its funny being in a place where you cant understand the language, things can get confusing and i never really know whats going on until the last minute and they say, ok ellie, get up on stage, tell them what you think of their english. It has really made me come out of my shell, and not be shy to talk in public.
The evening was the party celebrations. Music, performance, awards, food, coffee, and rain rain rain.
Riz and i 'released' our album, and although i started very shy after the first song it became enjoyable, handing out cds to people who helped and thanking the generosity of friends. Jamming with Bonil playing harmonica for the last song. To end this celebration a spiral was formed, a spiral of two lines, everyone shaking hands, embracing, touching cheek to cheek and thanking. Makan to finish and chats about the night. An intimate ritual that occurs at most events, what a beautiful way to end an evening. I think about events like these that i have been lucky enough to partake in on my travels and compare to those that occur in Australia, where alcohol is a necessity and age groups are seperated. The culture here is so different, you can be sitting in a group of aunties and uncles, their 3 year old children and teenagers, all ages partake in conversation. Knowledge is shared from such a young age, beautiful village, beautiful culture, may it be retained. I feel really lucky to have met all these people, they welcome you into their lives without question and are so generous with everything they have. The western world has a lot to learn.

Drawing competition
English competition

Malu Mothers

Summer of soul

Makan join

The official website 'Ellie n Rizal'
26th Feb- Rain slowed this day down, but by afternoon we finally made it to a small village out of Jatitwangi to do a little workshop at friend kadus place, more drawing and singing with some very cute children.

Odick and i creating a jungle of Rabbits lions and butterflies with the children
27th Feb- Tonight we join with Om Ketut in his wonderful rattler green van to go to Jatiwangi again for discussion and music. Good to come back here, i miss the people of this place, especially Ibu Santai, the grandmother of the house that cooks delicious food, and is often reclining in the sun with fan, looking ever so content with her life, you can actually see the love shining out of her eyes when you meet this lady.
The discussion topic for the night was 'use' the act of doing things that are useless or useful. Whether it is worth doing or partaking in useless activities or not. it was very interesting (what i could understand of it)
After Riz and I played our songs. And my face turned red as usual, but they all enjoyed.

Om Ketut with his guitars, the one on the left he made from bamboo and the right made from clay!
Jatiwangi discussion circle
28th Feb- Going to Jatiwangi again today, artist in residence Julian is to create his performance piece with the community. Avoiding rain the collaboration was started in a scattered manner.bill boards laid out in the town gathering centre and people off the streets invited to paint their own faces without a mirror, how they percieve themselves as looking. People of all ages came andafter a group of about 50 of us walked the streets with our signs lifted hgh, making lots of noise and drawing in attention. It was enjoyable and the works all looked so different, fun and colourful.
This evening chief of the village Gingi insisted upon making a video clip for one of our songs, we experimented with stop motion photography of legs lying against a wall and filmed me and rizal just umping around an open space he playing ukulele and me painting his face!

29th Feb- Spending the day in a roof tile factory out of Majalenka with Rizals brother and he, meeting some of the workers and observing the trade, today i was in a really bad moood! i think it may have been me hating the fact that today was my last day in in this area, tomorrow Rizal and i were to catch a train to Jakarta.
We spent the afternoon and night in a recording studio recording the song ocean, which is a very beautiful song written by Maldi, guitar vocals rizal, harmonica bonil, and i backing vocalist.
A long night and proving dedicated to our "always late" motto, riz and i were late to our farewell dinner in jatituju, we arrived 1am had coffee said goodbyes to those who were still there and returned to the bamboo castle of ibu and padadans to rest.

The farewells. Only 6 months in and im sick of goodbyes.
No one told me that on these travels i would be making friends for life and families i hope to return to. Its this twisted kind of pleasure. Travelling and meeting people that you feel an honest love and appreciation for. People that you feel so close to that when i return to my home in Australia one day, i feel like they would be just a bike ride down the road to visit.
The world is a village, it is just a really bloody big one.

So yeah, Me and Riz caught the train to Jakarta, visited his friends and talked till late on a rooftop overlooking a part of Jakarta, woke up after 1 hour of sleep to catch a bus to the Pelni ferry terminal.
The sadness of saying goodbye to a best friend. hatunuhun rizall, semangat! tears again.
The boat trip was a good 35hours and i spent most of it sleeping and dreaming of my last month in Indonesia and the beautiful people that i met.