Lombok, Indonesia is a simple village.
The houses are cement, or sometimes even just made of bamboo. The streets remain unpaved. It’s common to see chickens running about, and there are always people walking or working.
Pottery is just a normal part of the scene here—a potter’s wheel is as common as cooking rice for dinner. And although these wheels are not powered and the potter’s tools are very simple—sometimes as simple as a twig or a toothbrush—the artisans take so much pride in their abilities and have perfected the craft with very few resources.
Their skill is a treasure to me. Even though the surroundings are so humble, the perfection of their work is such a source of fulfillment for these people. It’s a unique balance of simplicity and beauty. Making pottery is just a part of their daily lives and it has been this way for hundreds of years. The clay comes from the riverbed and into their homes— they have an intimate connection to the land.
I remember the first time I visited this village, it opened my eyes. In Indonesia, only elementary education is available without cost. Paying for school is a serious challenge to most people in Lombok, and many children do not study at the high school level as a result.
The finished product is a hand-built testament to their skill.
The money artisans earn through Lombok Pottery Center allows their children to attend school. Their pottery wheels are set up in their homes and they sit together during the day, creating beautiful works of art. Turning the wheel with their hands, they are able to make pieces that are symmetrical and matching. They measure using small, bamboo sticks and add texture with pen caps. The finished product is a hand-built testament to their skill.
Visiting Lombok is always rejuvenating. In spite of the language barrier, there is a sense of emotion and energy. They create precise works of art from mud. Happiness and passion shines through in their smile, even though they are poor. I feel so lucky that I get to see this and be a part of it.