My chance meeting with a talented and curious young lady named Louise took place in Dia.Lo.Gue Artspace Kemang. After spending the afternoon in the cafe I stood up to take a break from my coffee and screen and was drawn to a wall of beautiful naive drawings, against a polished cement wall backdrop. The cafe was now full and it was difficult to move too closely to see the works of art. I remember feeling a sense of excitement that a child’s work was here in the gallery. The drawings and environment felt familiar to me. My younger sister Jane always loved to draw as a child, and my time spent working in schools as well as encouraging my own two children has left me with a ‘soft spot’ for children’s art.
Squeezing past tables to gain a closer look, I could see that each piece told a story of transition, adventure, bravery and change. Peering closer, Louise 2014, was signed on each piece.
Engel (the owner of Dia.Lo.Gue Artspace) became aware of my obvious visible interest in Louise’s exhibition, and within seconds I was being introduced to none other than the artist’s mother. After school had finished I had the pleasure of spending some time with Louise. We chatted about each unique collage, her adventures in Jakarta, how bravery is needed with any change, and that trying new things can be scary but can bring satisfaction, in the form of a First Art Exhibition!
I returned home that day, with three special collages, (The little mermaid, a Dreamer and Continue Elsewhere) stories to share with my children about nurturing talents, never giving up, and the importance of encouragement. Louise’s ‘Me in Jakarta’ Exhibition was indeed encouragement for me to continue encouraging my own children, as well as sharing the views of young people on the challenges of moving abroad; but also equally important, that joy can be found embracing the new and unchartered, no matter how young or old you are.
How old are you Louise? 9
Where were you born and where have you lived?
I was born in New York City. I’ve already lived in New York, Bordeaux (France) and Jakarta.
How long have you lived in Jakarta? 4 years
What brought you and your family to Jakarta? My Dad’s work
Have you always been interested in art and drawing? Yes since I was very young
Is this your first exhibition? Yes it is, and I hope not the last one
What is the name of your exhibition? ‘Me in Jakarta’
Your exhibition is a beautiful artistic collaboration with your Mum. How did you decide to work together?
At the beginning it was not the plan. I was invited by my friend to show some drawings during the Art Bazaar. But 2 weeks before it I still had nothing and I didn’t know what to do. My mother showed me my drawings and said that I should use what I already made. She explained to me what is a concept and showed me the Collage Technique.
Have you collaborated in this way with your Mum before?
Not really. But I always admired the creativity of my Mum.
What have you learnt from working with your Mum?
How to make a concept
The Collage Technique
To mix old and new things
Make it nice, it’s not enough, you need to know how to explain your work.
You have designed 12 collages, with 12 different stories. How did you choose these stories?
The starting point was the drawings from the selection. Then we tried to combine them to make a story.
Can you tell us a little about each one?
Un pays exotique – An exotic country It’s the oldest drawing
Original Drawings: It is the oldest one (I made it when I was 5).
Story of the Collage: When I was 5 my parents told me that we gonna go to an Exotic Country. I had no idea what did it mean exactly.
Les p’tites bêtes ne mangent pas les grandes? – Small animals doesn’t eat big ones?
Original Drawings: It was a magician and monsters. I drew them when I was 8.
Story of the Collage: The first things that we had to do before our departure was to make a lot of immunizations.
Comme en Afrique – Like Africa
Original Drawings: The original drawing was an African Princess (I was 4) and a giraffe for Mum (it is her favourite animal).
Story of the Collage: At 5 I thought that Indonesia was like Africa.
La p’tite sirène – The little mermaid
Original Drawings: The birds was for mum (I was 7) after holidays in Ouest Còte in France at my Grand parent’s house.
Story of the Collage: First thing we did after our arrival was to learn how to swim without caring about big animals…
Original Drawings: It was the witch Karaba in the Kirikou story that my youngest brother loved so much at that time (I was 6). I imagined an animal half dragon, half dog and half deer.
Story of the Collage: In Indonesia in some islands you can find very big animals…
Original Drawings: The birds is part of a painting I made at 6 with my Art teacher. The girl was drawn when I was training to make my imaginary character for our family painting. Each year we make together a painting that we will use to send as a New Year card. The flowers back ground is from a work at school I made it when I was 5. I noticed that it was the favourite collage of most of the people who talked to me at the gallery. I am very happy because it is the only one I made all by myself.
Story of the Collage:….But Java is only about flowers and birds.
La reveuse – A dreamer
Original Drawings: It is Candy Princess. I drew it at 7. The flowers is coming from the wall paper that I had in my bedroom in France when I was 2. I drew the cupcake lately to illustrate the story we made for the collage.
Story of the Collage: For me who is a dreamer and has a sweet tooth Java is a good place to live.
Bizarre – Strange
Original Drawings: With Mr & Mrs geometric I was training to make 3D patterns (now at 9). The little girl was also a character I made for our family New Year card (I was 8).
Story of the Collage: Sometime when you arrived in a new country you feel alone. It’s like people staring at you and sometimes they are acting strangely. You are not feeling home.
Mon chat – My cat
Original Drawings: I drew hairy pink monsters, very cute (I was 7) and a princess (I was 8).
Story of the Collage: Hopefully after my parents offered me my cat (Lucu) I never felt alone anymore.
Continuer ailleurs – Continue elsewhere
Original Drawings: I copy a pen I have with a Princess at the end (I was 8). The white and black drawings are from my everyday sketching book (now at 9).
Story of the Collage: Now that I am leaving Indonesia to continue my life somewhere else in a new country….
La p’tite française – The little French girl
Original Drawings: I drew the girl during my free time at school (I was 8). The subway map is coming from Mum’s book. I was trying to make a blue-white-red effect with all that represents me from France.
Story of the Collage: ….my heart is always like that….
Mon Jakarta – My Jakarta
Original Drawings: Eko Nugroho is one of Mum’s Indonesian favourite artists. I learn from him, his style. I try to make a drawing in Eko Nugroho way. The background is a batik.
Story of the Collage: ….but now I made a special place and it is also little bit like that inside.
What would you say to children whose families have decided to move countries for work?
It is an opportunity to learn a lot of things even if sometimes I miss my family.
Do you have 3 pieces of advice you would give them?
It is easier if you learn how to speak English when you have to travel a lot.
Buy souvenirs before your next moving.
To have a pet – it is not easy with this kind of life, but it helped me a lot.
Do you have 3 pieces of advice for children moving to Jakarta?
It is good to try to learn in your everyday life some Indonesian words.
It is not because your Indonesian babysitter is smiling to you all the time that means she is always very happy with you. It’s just that she doesn’t know how to tell you she is not.
It is not easy to walk in Jakarta, learn how to swim is more important!
*Kenalkan: Let me introduce
Words: Liz McClean Photography: a journey bespoke and Louise