Sentiment in Indonesia

BOM Fellow Diane Wiltshire recently accompanied our Director and Head of Programme, Karen Newman and Louise Latter, on an epic ten day trip to Indonesia. Diane was showing her project ‘Sentiment,’ at the Digital Design Weekend in Jakarta. Here Diane writes about her experience in Indonesia:

From Birmingham to Jakarta
“On the 19th and 20th of November I had the great pleasure of showing my project Sentiment at the Digital Design Weekend in Jakarta, Indonesia. It was my first visit to Indonesia and the experience was more wonderful than I could have hoped. I am a fellow at BOM, Birmingham Open Media and was invited to show my work as well as helping with some R&D. To further inform future collaborative projects in Indonesia within the intersection of art, technology and science. I set off for Indonesia on the rush hour train from Birmingham City Centre to the airport on a cold evening. I wanted to give myself plenty of time as I was traveling with an electronic vest and wasn’t sure how understanding airport security would be. I need not have worried, even with the Director of BOM and the Head of Programming shouting “Di!” through the hoards of people and, “it’s ok we are from BOM,” the security staff were very accommodating and curious about the project.

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It is a very long way to Jakarta, and when we arrived it was night again. A wall of humid air thick with the smell of clove cigarettes greeted us, as well as a very lovely lady from the British Council. On our first day we met with representatives from Hivos. An organisation which I found very inspiring. We learnt a little more about Indonesia, and the work that Hivos does. We met with people leading ‘Voices’ a social inclusion programme. I would very much like to learn from these ladies as I could see parallels with my inspiration for Sentiment. I wanted our voices to be heard. It is humbling as an artist to sit at a table with people who are striving for transparency and accountability, as well as women’s empowerment through an organisation such as Hivos.

Our second day started early as we had to travel to the old part of Jakarta for the Digital Design Weekend, part of the UK/ID festival. The traffic in Jakarta is like nothing I have seen before, I will never again complain about the traffic in Birmingham, (well not for a few months anyway). The old part of town is very different from the monumental buildings found in the rest of the city. There are brightly coloured bicycles which you can ride round the square with complimentary wide brimmed hats in matching colours. I did look out for the brave people who navigate the roads of Jakarta by bicycle, but the square seems the most enjoyable place.”

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From Jakarta to Yogyakarta
“The next morning we left bustling Jakarta behind and we took a plane to Yogyakarta. We spent almost a week here meeting with other artists, arts and women’s organisations, but I could have spent a lot longer. Yogyakarta is a place which invites you to explore, with small streets and eclectic markets. Every corner has something inviting, food stalls, batik galleries with the background noise of car horns and cockerels.  The view from my hotel window was not of towering high-rise but red tiled roofs punctuated with green of mango trees.  On the last morning I was shocked to see a mountain, which had been hiding behind the monsoon clouds.

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I am sorry I am not able to list everyone we met in Indonesia, but I would like to thank them all for their hospitality and time. We spent most of our time with people from Lifepatch, who tirelessly accompanied us to each meeting; as well as taking us on a trip to the temple of Borobudur, a 9th-century Mahayana Buddhist Temple and to see the sun rise over the jungle, which I found a very emotional experience, that will stay with me for a very long time.”

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Meeting with local artists
“We met with the artist Theresia Agustina, who works in print and sculpture, creating very beautiful pieces. She also supports other female artists, all very commendable. However it was her daughter who stole the show, with her fantastic portraits. Another artist who stole the show was the most wonderful Tamara, thanks to Lifepatch for the introduction.

On our last day of visits we went to the workshop of Kurnia Lurik weavers. I found this so inspirational, multiple projects jumping out at me. I really hope that I will get the opportunity to collaborate with this extraordinary organisation. As someone that is interested in wearable technology and smart clothes as well as heritage, my mind keeps revisiting this day. Analogies of data within the threads of the fabric, the handcrafted and the technological could be married together creating something quite wonderful.

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After our visit to the weavers I gave myself some time to sit on the balcony looking out at Yogyakarta, where the acrobatics of the swallows were relayed by the bats as night took hold. I tried to absorb that moment, wanting to remember Indonesia.”