In early February, ACICIS assisted Sydney Southeast Asia Centre (SSEAC) at The University of Sydney to facilitate a New Colombo Plan funded Mobility Program ‘Cultural Industries in Central Java’ in Yogyakarta. The tour included 17 students from various disciplines such as Arts, Architecture, Media and Communications, and Language, accompanied by 2 staff members. The aim of the field school was for the students to explore the importance of local Indonesian creative industries as well as the strategies used to promote these industries locally, nationally and internationally. During the first week of the program, students participated in a series of lectures and field visits, while in the second week they worked on an interdisciplinary group research assignment.

As part of the first week of the field school, ACICIS helped facilitate a number of field trips. Students kicked off their field visits at Desa Giriloyo, a small village located in the South of Yogyakarta. Local residents welcomed them into the pendopo (Javanese traditional pavilion) to study the great range of batik patterns from all over Java. Students also had the opportunity to create their own piece of batik, and had an extensive discussion on the growth of Giriloyo batik industry with the locals, which has developed from a mere home business marketed by the Kingdom into an independent community-based industry today.

On the second day, students visited Desa Kasongan, a village well known for its pottery industry. Hosted by a non-government organisation Rumah Inspirasi Jogja (RIJ), students were taken on a walk around the village to see other small local industries that have been developing alongside the pottery industry, such as the Javanese traditional hat blangkon, bamboo basket, and a recycled bottle project. At the end of the walking tour, participants had the opportunity to create their own pottery.

Another industry that SSEAC students visited was the famous silver industry in Kotagede, an area in Yogyakarta where the traditional atmosphere is still preserved with traditional Javanese architecture. The students had the opportunity to try their hand at making their own silver jewellery and then explore the area of Kotagede.

The students also did not miss out on Yogyakarta’s heritage treasures: the Prambanan and Borobudur temples. They also explored Javanese cultural heritage at Tembi Rumah Budaya through gamelan music and the traditional Javanese shadow puppets, wayang kulit. Students also experienced the rural Indonesian village life, staying at the Desa Turgo located on the slope of Mount Merapi. After a warm welcome and dinner with the locals, they explored lush Merapi by trekking and going on an adventurous jeep tour.

Thank you to Sydney Southeast Asia Centre (SSEAC). We hoped you enjoyed the tour as much as we did, and we look forward to seeing you back in Yogya soon!