Indonesia has a remarkable cultural and artistic heritage and traditional pottery, in its infinite variety and local specificity, makes this nation famous worldwide. Vases, statues, pots, cups, lamps and decorative objects, of timeless beauty and unmatched in their ethnic style, furnish the homes and businesses of the island and are a highly successful export to foreign markets as well. A centuries-old technique which, from prehistoric times, has reached us, taking a place of honour in this otherwise digitalised and mechanised world, where ancient trades have evolved into tiny gems to be protected. Unfortunately, new generations of Balinese don’t seem at all interested in carrying this marvellous art forward, threatened by serious competition and the importation of products from other Indonesian cities and regions. However, the use of traditional pottery has an important historic and community value which has seen to the continued survival of this art. In Banjar Basangtamiang, in the village of Kapal, the making of pottery is considered a cultural legacy completely essential to Balinese life and the artisans continuing working, fearful of losing such an important facet of island life. In various parts of Bali, potters, designers and artists organise pottery workshops and courses, even for children, to learn how to transform a piece of clay into a magnificent work of art with one’s own hands. At Artha Ceramic in Ubud, you can learn the technique of working clay on the wheel, shaping it, decorating it and firing it, as well as the delicate moment of glazing the piece. If you prefer to see how such works are created by artisan hands in person, in the tiny village of Pejaten, every family lives by working with pottery and, since the 1970s, they have been successfully producing terracotta roof shingles.
Stephan Kotas is a Czechoslovakian photographer who chose Bali as a home where he could do what he loves - help the past live again in vintage portraits using the old-fashioned photographic developing technique of "tintype".