Saturday, October 27, 2007

Jakarta Art Teachers & I

On Words

Jakarta Art Teachers & I


Jakarta – Picasso famously said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”

Each day, art teacher Neil Bunting works at solving this problem with his dedication in his international school’s classroom and through the organization he founded, Jakarta Art Teachers & I.

Formed two years ago this November, JATI was, like much in the art world, crafted out of a sense of anxiety and loneliness.

Bunting, who has lived in Jakarta since 2002, recalls in a written interview, “I first thought of an arts organization in 2004. I felt as an art teacher, and an artist, I was living in a state of cultural disconnectedness and desperately needed to forge links with other schools, teachers and people connected with the arts.”

JATI’s inaugural meeting in 2005 was attended by five international-school art teachers. These initial members were enthused by JATI’s dream and spread its message and now around 20 members from thirteen schools take part in each meeting.

In addition to the monthly meetings the members are in near daily contact with one another in order to bounce ideas around and share practical information about such things as exhibitions of interest and where to buy art equipment. “The organization has made significant progress during the last two years,” says Bunting.

Open to all Indonesian schools, JATI promotes the values of expression, individuality, and creativity. Bunting explains that the organization “encourages collaboration and sharing of expertise between art educators, facilitators and anybody who cares passionately about the visual arts” by developing and promoting art through exhibitions, workshops and all kinds of artistic relationships between students and teachers.

Bunting says that it is key to JATI’s vision that local, national and international schools are involved, “This is imperative. The organization is not simply an international school organization. Many of our schools use the International Baccalaureate curriculum. To apply the philosophies of IB we must involve Indonesian schools. This is not just about paying lip service to a school curriculum. This about doing what is right—walking the walk.”

“We,” Bunting continues, “are still striving to involve Indonesian schools and the local community more. We want Indonesian art teachers to take a more active role and we are seeking to not make them feel alienated in any way by producing our minutes and agendas and statements in Bahasa and English.”

Past workshops have featured stations teaching a variety of techniques from book-binding to chocolate moulds and transcriptions in mixed media to printmaking and watercolor painting.

Both students and teachers are encouraged to stretch, to grow at JATI workshops. The students experience new techniques and ideas while the teachers are able practice team-teaching methods and observe their peers at work.

JATI continually strives to create and maintain mutually supportive working environments. Bunting believes its members understand that in order to be creative, the fear of mistakes must be abolished.

Bunting says, “Workshops are particularly beneficial for students from less well resourced schools, who, for example, have never had the opportunity to use a printing press or be involved in photographic processes.”

The new year should be fruitful for the club. Bunting and JATI colleague Dave White are hard at work securing a location for JATI’s next exhibition. Showcasing the work of students of all ages from the organization’s 13 schools, Bunting promises the show will be "huge."

This next exhibition is just a step. Bunting says, “"JATI will go from strength to strength. There will be more exhibitions, workshops and opportunities for the art community.”

For further information about JATI, visit its website at, email the organization at or telephone Neil Bunting at +62 813 10921265.

This article was originally published in The Jakarta Post.

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