An Unexpected Development

Dewi Dian Reich
Dewi Dian Reich

‘Photography My Teacher’ is an article by Dewi Dian Reich. Founder of Sawidji Artist Collective and Gallery. She serves as Director/Curator of Sawidji and Co.

How the sharing of Photography became an unexpected teacher for us at Sawidji.

Photography my teacher. From the beginning, ever since our Sawidji initiative started back in 2020, it was clear what our direction is. Which is to create a base and/or a platform for traditional and contemporary artists and artisans to gather in a supportive and transparent environment and find a sustainable means to develop. For them to get inspired again. Regain confidence, see their own value with fresh perspective.

Away from the drudge of just producing ‘art’ at the demands of ‘art galleries/shops’ and never given the appropriate accreditation to the individual. Art for profit has been a gargantuan machine here. That machine has nearly destroyed the elemental fabric of the spirit of creative inspiration.

As a by product of a zealous commercial art market, the process of art became the process of making souvenirs and decorations. Really talented and skilled traditional artists became conditioned to be labourers. Their own creative instincts restrained by the reality of supply and demand.

Optimism Fighting an Uphill Battle

We aspire for Sawidji to be a place of rediscovery. To gather knowledge and get to the heart of things again. Be strategic and find appropriate commercial ways for us to move with the demands of the times. Whilst making sure not to blindly continue down a path that will inevitably destroy the artistic integrity of our traditional roots.

Sounds simple enough you might say, but it was not so. In fact, even my optimism underwent some testy waters with the challenges we face. Firstly, there is the issue of economic standstill, and threat of political instability. Not to mention health risks and a worldwide pandemic going on.

How is it that I think we can focus on art and creative inspiration when everyone is under these extreme pressures? Well, I remain truly an idealistic realist. I maintain that we can. With hard work, understanding and appropriate strategies, we can.

As part of my background in Fine Arts and Digital Media predominated on painting and photography, we always thought to incorporate photography as a means to record our journey. Of capturing these new experiences and share them. What we did not expect was how much photography, and my sharing of it, would evolve into something so wonderful for us.

Knowledge Sharing, a Key Sawidji Principle

Firstly, learning is a key pillar in what we believe to be important for our development here. Therefore, as I am always so fortunate to learn new things, I wished to share as much of what I can with our growing community as well. As as result of that, we set up facilities to learn photography. A space for artists to work with digital tools if they are interested. Frankly, It was comical how averse to this suggestion everyone was. It was vey close to panic.

But, it wasn’t long before some coaxing convinced some. Soon, we had a regular routine of taking excursions out with our cameras. With the added benefit of morning fresh air and exercise, our regular photo treks became a source of unexpected surprises.

For myself personally, returning to photography was a welcome joy. But more than that, the sharing of it, with other artists whose contextual view of art never even in the slightest, included a camera, working through the learning processes was like going through a reawakening.

Photography my teacher ..Giving motivation and encouragement..

How it became the perfect mentor. A metaphorical process, for us to see from a new perspective. For example, everything I was teaching in regards to the technical parameters of the camera functions, really is as an exercise that helps to shift our own personal visions.

To feel hope and enthusiasm for new possibilities. It is in the excitement they feel when they master a new skill and with beautiful results. This is really what we are about.

Its this joy and appreciation in the creative process. Freedom. Freedom to celebrate, to theorise, to conceptualise, to think and speak, through our art. Perhaps I see Art as Nature’s Spirit of Creation, imparted to us through inspiration. Perhaps even intuition.

It does not matter what form it takes, its the spirit of it that we need to reawaken. Its this spirit that gives life to a work of art. Without this, it is just a husk of colours and decorative appeal, but no breath, no life to it.

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