Ayu, the woman who always smiles and is in every detail
Ni Made Ayu Tresnawati, called Ayu by all, is the first person to arrive at the eThnoPur workshop at 7 AM and the last one to leave. Her day starts with cleaning and ends with taking care of Tiggy and Kem, the two "adopted" stray dogs that spend the day sleeping next to the toucans and Kadec, the workshop manager. After feeding the dogs, Ayu carefully places their blankets and returns home.
Smiling, cheerful, focused and always friendly, Ayu is the soul reflected in each of the details that make up the atmosphere of order, tranquillity and peace that permeates the entire workshop. It reaches its peak with the ritual of offerings at noon, when small cardboard trays with pieces of bread, grains of rice and coffee, flowers and candles are placed by the door and next to a sculpture in the patio.
Ayu was born 36 years ago in Denpasar. Her family is from Celuk, her uncle Lenju is one of the toucans at the workshop. When her mother was pregnant with Ayu, they had to take her to a hospital in Bali’s capital, it was a risky pregnancy. Ayu was born by caesarean section and her mother died a week after birth. Her father never recovered from this loss, so her uncles and aunts took care of raising her.
She remembers that one of the things she enjoyed in her childhood was to accompany her uncles to fish in the river and play catch fish with her dress, along with her cousins. As she grew up in a family of toucans, at age 10 she began to learn the different techniques to make rings, earrings and necklaces. Lenju taught her, and so did her oldest cousins, as well as the whole family. When she was not at school, she helped them with the orders.
At school she met I Nyoma Juliana, the artist and carpenter who makes the sophisticated and baroque wooden doors and ceilings, full of details, which surprise visitors who come to Bali for the first time. He was her classmate and has now been her husband for 9 years. The bond that unites them has been strong enough to hold out against each of the barriers placed to keep them apart.
At first, Ayu's family did not give her permission to date him or be his girlfriend. They told her that she was too young to engage in a serious relationship, that it would be best if she looked for work. Ayu did so: Between 14 and 17, she was employed in the workshop of one of her uncles, as a toucan’s assistant. At the age of 19, she got a job at one of Celuk's large jewellery and watch companies.
She restored rings and necklaces, adjusted watch nets, whatever was necessary. Those were years without trips to the beach – which is what she likes most now - or parties, because when she returned from work, she cleaned the family compound together with the other women.
The company where she worked went bankrupt, in the years following the terrorist attack in 2002, and Ayu was one of the 200 people who were fired. With freelance work, she "endured" until she got a steady job in a business that sold souvenirs for tourists. During all these years, I Nyoma Juliana, her admirer, did not lose heart. With a lot of time and patience, he obtained permission to be her boyfriend. But when Ayu's grandfather visited, he looked at Nyoma with suspicion and distrust because he wanted his granddaughter to marry a man who was willing to stay in the family complex. In Bali, when a woman marries, she usually moves to the home of the husband’s family.
They got married in 2012 and went to live in Singapadu, a town that is attached to Celuk. Soon Ayu became pregnant. She worked in the souvenir business until she had contractions. Her delivery was also difficult: she was hospitalized for ten days in the hospital and her baby - a girl - spent a week in the incubator. She resumed a permanent job when the eThnoPur workshop opened in Celuk. Here, everyone calls her Ayu but knowing her story maybe she is best defined by the second part of her name: Tresnawati, which means full of love.