Saturday, March 20, 2010

Mr. Awom a carving artist from Manokwari

I met him for the first time in January 2010 when I was walking with Russian tourists who were looking for souvenirs especially the ones that were made of wood. A humble person, that’s my first impression about him.
Actually, I had passed by his house many times but I did not know if he was one of the best carving artists in Manokwari city. It is not difficult to find his house. It is located on Merdeka street next to Suri bakery shop. You can easily recognize his house that is made of wood among many concrete buildings. 
Be careful when you cross the street! His house is located at Jalan Merdeka, a very busy street during the day and night. Make sure the traffic light is red and the pedestrian light is green before you cross the street to his house.
Mr. Awom works for the state owned health agency. And he spends his leisure time carving. He carves not for money but for expressing his love of art. He puts all of his carvings in the living room that is decorated with large Papuan cloth print painting.   Wooden tifa, photo frame, statues, and various reliefs that symbolize human, fish, or even birds of paradise have been created by his highly skilled  hands. His attention to details is excellent.
Mr. Awom does not promote his artworks by putting them in art galleries or souvenir shops in the downtown.
Some souvenir vendors came to his house asking him whether they could buy his artworks and sell them again in their shops but he rejected that idea.

For Mr. Awom, his love of art is a reflection of his love for Papuan nature and cultural identity. So, if you want to get his carvings, you have to meet him personally. He will be very happy to receive foreign tourists who come to his house to buy the artworks that he sells.
Many of the wood carvings have their own cultural stories. For instance, the curved reliefs which decorate the surrounding of a clock on the wall symbolize the waves of the sea. His wooden carvings look perfect if they are installed for interior decoration of any house because they are made of natural material.
When you want to buy his artworks, he is ashamed to mention the price. He is a pure artist, not a businessman. When I was escorting tourists to his house, he liked to ask me to determine the price of his artworks. Give him a better price so that he will be encouraged to produce more beautiful artworks in his old age.
If you love bird watching in the Papuan forest, and have shot a number of photographs about a species of bird that you might not recognize, you can come and talk to him to ask the local name of the bird and its habits. Mr. Awom would explain about the bird to you. In addition, Mr. Awom has a poster of Papuan birds attached on the wall next to the entrance door of his house which you can use to compare your bird photos with them.
Wood carvers in Manokwari are great artists. They create magnificent reliefs and statues by using simple tools. With strong determination Mr. Awom and his friends in this region have been trying to preserve their art styles for future Papuan generations. by Charles Roring



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