Teman Gambar – Drawing Friends do the BIG DRAW

An Indonesian –  Australian collaborative drawing project

Teman gambar’ means ‘drawing friend’.  Based on the pen-pal experience many adults around the world remember from  childhood, Asialink resident Elly Kent and Tlatah Bocah collaborated to  implement a creative exchange. This exchange connected children in  Indonesia and children in Australian  primary schools. Our original exchange focussed on children who were evacuated  during the devastating eruptions of Mt Merapi in late 2010;  it was a wonderful way for Australian  children to show support and care for their Teman Gambar.

In  2011, Teman Gambar decided to join the Big Draw.  We put the call out to schools involved in  the Teman Gambar project, and two dedicated teachers of Indonesian language in  four Australian schools expressed interest. In Indonesia, four primary schools  on the slopes of Mt Merapi also joined:

  • Tully  State School, Queensland, Australia
  • SDK  Perontakan (Perontakan Catholic Primary School), Sumber, Central Java,  Indonesia
  • Cardwell  State School, Queensland, Australia
  • SDK  Kanisius (Kanisius Catholic Primary School), Sumber, Central Java,  Indonesia
  • Mission  Beach State School, Queensland, Australia
  • SDN  Sumber (Sumber State Primary School), Sumber, Central Java,  Indonesia
  • Geelong  Baptist College, Victoria, Australia
  • SDN  Keningar (Keningar State Primary School), Sumber, Central Java,  Indonesia

In late October, schools in Australia began creating their  collaborative drawings. Each school worked together to describe their home town,  school and favourite activites on drawings between 3 and 7 metres long. On these  initial drawings, students drew their schools, sports, histories, homes and  neighbourhoods. Teachers Sue Foley (Queensland schools) and Dewi Claridge  (Victorian school) posted the drawings to Teman Gambar founder Elly Kent in  Canberra. In  November 2011, Elly  travelled to Central Java and delivered the drawings to the four Indonesian  schools.  Teman Gambar co-founder Gunawan  Julianto worked together to explain the drawings and the project to students at  the four Mt Merapi schools;


Stage  1: Australian school students begin the first drawings which are sent to Indonesian  schools.

Stage  2:Indonesian  school students complete the drawings begun by the Australian  students.

Stage  3: Indonesian  students begin the second round of drawings, which are sent in return to  Australian schools.

Stage  4: Australian  students complete the drawings they have received from Indonesian students. 

As the project unfolded, teachers and facilitators kept in  touch via email and the dedicated Teman Gambar Facebook Group.

In Indonesia, the students of the Mt Merapi Primary Schools  were thrilled and fascinated by the drawings from their Australian peers. An  avalanche of questions followed each introduction of the drawings. Where is Tully? What kind of animal is that? What is that big green  circle? In  a short time, Elly and Gunawan helped the students explore Australian culture.  Then the reciprocal drawing began!

SD Keningar was the last stop on out Big Draw tour. As the  school finished up classes for the day the heavy rainy-season clouds began to  build. Before long, rain was falling on the fertile crops of Mt Merapi, the  crops that sustain the livelihoods of her families. Gunawan, myself and my  family and the students were hanging out waiting for the rain to ease before  heading home. The Australian Rules football field and ball illustrated on the  enormous painting/drawing from Geelong Baptist College had been intriguing for  the students. It just so happened that my husband, a footy player himself, had his football with him. Rain is part of the game! So our parting photographs with  the kids from Keningar, the last school to the top of Mt Merapi’s western slope,  were in fact those of Shane (footy player) and Adi (our son) teaching two  young fellows from Keningar to fly for the red ball. An all-round cultural  experience….

That’s the ball in the top middle! Those Keningar boys were  a great mark….


Elly Kent and Gunawan  Julianto

One thought on “Teman Gambar – Drawing Friends do the BIG DRAW

  1. Pingback: Art Practice | ellykent

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