Raphael Didjaman rarely opens the doors of his tiny workshop. He confides here to make you discover his universe…
“Personally, what catches me the most and that I like is the smell of my Didgeridoo workshop when I enter it for the first time of the day… with the smell of Eucalyptus wood jump to the nostrils even before I turn on the light. This very wood that I cut, with my friend Aborigène PHIL, there on this continent oh so magical and mesmerizing… it is thus my Australia to me but here in France !
The music is also present 24 hours, with non-stop because I am a music lover and musician above all, well before becoming luthier elsewhere. Sometimes I listen to it softly and sometimes very loudly… when I use machine tools. And I even stop everything when a music is deadly and dance… well yes… it’s also independent !
I realized that a certain ritual also accompanies me when I decide to spend the day there. So I plan and I work “to the task”. That is to say that I set a certain number of things to do at least, as much on the side of the didgeridoos commands that I have to do than on the side of the creation that I want to explore. Of course, there are things I like to do more than others, as the most common of mortals I think.
The cut in Australia is the most stressful part but the most exciting for example… but it can be easily understood because to be in the middle of nature is always more pleasant than to be in private. While sanding is the most boring part in my eyes, with dust and so on. But at the same time, it is during this stage that the didgeridoo that I am working reveals itself slowly and more precisely with its nuances of colors… which makes forget quickly the efforts provided with the fatigue of the arms !
The most interesting phase for me is the opening of the didgeridoo. Where everything becomes beautiful ! This step is absolutely fabulous at eye level and smell, because it is obvious that when an object, whatever it is, goes through the opening phase is finally revealed as we had imagined… at least we hope ! Because it can be even more beautiful or ugly… and yes it can happen but rarely. The smell of polish is also a nice sign for me, because it defines almost the end of a story… which started in 1995 for me… year when I left for the first time in Australia.
In fact, every instrument I make transports me mentally to the vastly infinite lands of Aborigines, kangaroos, koalas, crocodiles and snakes. Whenever I have finished one and I’m doing a photo shoot of it, I always have a thought for my Aboriginal friends Phil and Peter wondering if they would like this kind of instrument. I know it can be a little cliché, but once someone acquires one of the didgeridoos of my manufacture, I have the impression and I hope to transmit to him and give a piece of musical dream forming part of the Ocean Indian, and that he will take with him a piece of the history of our planet and that he will travel with him every time he’ll go to blow in… “
Photos : Arié Elmaleh