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  • Writer's pictureHakan Öztunalı

Body, Soul & Pottery w/ Ochie Winaga

All of a sudden Indonesian Artist Ochie Winaga craved for transmitting the creativity comes from the roots of body and soul, to bounce onto pottery. The whim reached to a newer phase due by cyanotype printing and conceptual photography where dried plants, flowers and other decorative components gathered in a medium. The creativity regenerated in the palm of Ochie Winaga. Bundle of thanks to Ochie accepting the interview offer to explain her inner world, pottery and printing techniques and the remaining personal takes on objective matters.

Ochie Winaga
(Courtesy of Ochie Winaga)

Hello Ochie! Thank you kindly for affirming the invitation to my Realm. Could you please introduce your artistic identity?

Ochie Winaga: Hello Hakan! Thanks to you too for having an interest in my works. Since I’m new in this art field I would describe my pottery work as a new medium where I can deliver my creativity through clay with hand-building or throwing techniques, something like a body of work to develop myself. My goal is to create freely from the ideas into functional or decorative objects. I really love playing with the colors to get surprising results by mixing the glaze recipes, exploring tableware shapes and little monster sculptures inspired from my childhood imagination.

You run a pottery business and it’s quite enticing, after I’ve searched how you operate with art peripherals. How was the idea popped up in your mind?

Ochie Winaga: At the beginning I didn't have a plan at all to run a pottery business, my interest in pottery began when I’m experimenting with cyanotype print, trying to transfer photography and dried plants or leaves into paper and fabrics, creating collage and patterns in mixed medium. One day I wanted my cyanotype to be printed on the glass or ceramic surface, my idea was to buy a blank ceramic cup at the store to start work with.

Giving some try with different methods to achieve an abstract composition with dried leaves that I press on the cup body. I got some feedback from a friend like ‘what if you make your own cup design’ which I didn’t think about before, it was like an ''aha'' moment. I started to find out and buy some clay to try and learn, collecting information from the internet, watching some youtube tutorials and taking some pottery classes and renting a studio here to work. Yes, just like that. It was last year when I’m still working daily in the office.

Thankfully I have more interest in this kind of body of work that resonates with me to explore more varieties in pottery art. This also encouraged me to make the decision to quit my job early this year and start working in my small studio. Sounds crazy but I believe in myself.

For an Indonesian based artist, I assume handicrafts are demanding popularity in your region. Is that something motivated by cultural and regional aspects?

Ochie Winaga: Yes of course, Indonesia is a multi-ethnic country with so many islands that has a diversity of cultures where each has its own characteristics and it’s very attractive for local and global markets. I don’t have enough knowledge to answer this specifically but for pottery I know some regions that are major production centers of pottery such as Kasongan, Pundong, Melikan, Plered, and Lombok, which feature handmade ethnic designs. I’m sure there’s more regions that produce pottery art and craft.

You’re collaborated with Bahrull Marta, and the collection was stunning. Sadly I missed that collection due to wrong timing. Do you have further projections to collab with significant artists like Bahrull Marta in the near future?

Ochie Winaga: Thank you. Currently I’m only collaborating with Bahrull Marta because we live in the same city so it is easy to work together and we both share the same interest about what we see in the creative process, there is no right or wrong in creating a piece as long as we believe in ourselves. Not really sure about what is coming from collaborative works, however I’m always open to ideas from significant artists who have other disciplines besides painting, that could be more interesting.

How the community perceive and react to art projects and conventions in your homeland?

Ochie Winaga: Very good, I live in the capital city which almost every week has art events from museums, galleries to art markets. It’s like a platform for the society who want to appreciate local markets and support their favorite creators, or just want to have a good time in the right place. There’s so much going on, honestly I don’t really follow up on this thing, I just know some event going on from

my friend who will participate in a certain event.

Ochie Winaga
(Courtesy of Ochie Winaga)

In the way of crafting pottery, what are the principles you prioritize before shipping products to your clients?

Ochie Winaga: Well at first my process is like randomly getting my hands dirty with clay, it’s like an abstraction stage before I decided to continue with a throwing wheel or hand-building technique, and either going to make tableware, planter, or decorative objects. Sometimes I also sketch some shapes but it’s hard for me to visualize, so I just go create.

These I process at the same time before I start to create the initial pieces, usually I make 6 or 8 cups per day, not including the failed ones. There’s no exact point to making certain collections at this stage. The next day when the clay was a bit dry I trimmed them to make the shape that I wanted. As a beginner myself, sometimes I trim too thin so the clay can be broken if I keep it for firing, so I have to recycle them and will use them for next session, and usually it takes one week or less for waste clay to be recycled and can be used again.

When I think the piece is done I start to think what glaze color that I will use for the collections, finding recipes and reference, color ideas, and trying to imagine how they will look on the final product, and if all going smoothly it will be ready to be sent to the gas kiln firing which I still rent at my friend's studio. There’s two steps firing for my pieces, usually I’m glazing after the first firing/bisque, same case with the painting collaboration, we work on the glaze and paint the cup at this stage, and then second/high firing for the final result.

Normally it will take two weeks or so for the whole production in my timeline. I am still creating a small batch for each collection and figuring out which glaze color or shape that I prefer to keep for the long term. Let's say I loved to experiment. I have Monolith, Nebula, and Hera series in my collections that I keep for ongoing production. It's always trial and error in this process, so far I enjoy it and feel frustrated too if I see broken pieces out from the kiln (haha). Seeing my pieces going to someone's home is kind of a mixed feeling, usually I look at the piece one last time, taking some pictures to say goodbye before it’s packed and ready to be shipped.

I always think about trying to have my own characteristics, both from the concept and the glaze I use, so that every time people see one of my works, they will notice that it is my work. I hope it doesn't sound too much as I just started all of this, it’s gonna be a long journey.

Hmm. Noticed that your fervency over mobile photography and cyanotype printing. What did grab your focus on these specific categories?

Ochie Winaga: Ah yes, I started taking pictures as a hobby in my spare time between daily jobs back in 2015 and joined the mobile photography community in Jakarta, taking some landscape, people, buildings and mostly street photography with my phone or digital camera around the city and while traveling if I go for work outside the city.

Then suddenly the pandemic hit the world, my daily job really took up my time. I almost never took photos like while I’m traveling in previous years. I was really stuck. I don’t know how to explain, maybe I’m overthinking about what happened recently and memories from the past come like flashbacks and it made me want to create something different than before. I am taking portrait photography that reflects myself based on my past experiences when I was a child and teenager when it was a difficult time as I grew up, being in a not healthy environment and family. I see myself as a reference to my photoworks, and I just let the viewer take themselves in the state of a certain feeling when they see my works.

At that time I'm also discovering cyanotype printing techniques as my new medium to print my works. It involves nature and chemicals in the process, we can use UV lights too for the image exposure but I don’t have it, I prefer the sun involved in my work, it has limited time for me, as in my experience the sun will give the best result in my area between 9 am to 1 pm. It pushes me to work a bit fast to get everything properly printed. I loved to bring some print to next process with coffee toning the next day after the exposure. Instead of cyan blue it will have dark and brown colors, giving some depth in some print surface.

Would you like to recommend anything artistically thrive you?

Ochie Winaga: Of course, I especially want to mention some artists and friends who inspired me during my exploration in the art world, since I’m self-taught and never had formal art education, I liked to learn and get motivated from people who I admire, some of them has various discipline like Images Sombres, Maria Pleshkova, Anabel Quirarte, Ronit Baranga, Sharon Griffin, Ricca Okano, Geoffrey Tjakra (Epicai), Aaron Scythe, and more.

Ochie. I would like to offer my thanks once more for participating. Anything you would like to mention or announce for dear audience?

Ochie Winaga: Much gratitude Hakan for having me, I really appreciate your time and support to get in touch with what I’m doing here. I’m so happy right now that I’m here answering some questions and I would like to say thank you so much to everyone who supports me and my art through the years. I could say that I am living this moment.

It’s not easy to leave all behind our comfort zone and start chasing our dreams. My fear is the biggest enemy to start everything, conquering the fear is the most important for this journey. As for the announcement, hopefully my new collections and collaboration with Bahrull Marta will be ready in January, so stay tuned for more info. Thank you to all readers.


To reach official pottery Instagram page of Ochie Winaga, tap here: @ow.artandcraft

To reach official store page of Ochie Winaga, tap here: ochiewinaga


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