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Three weeks in Bali

September 9, 2016




I've just spent three and a half weeks in Bali which after 10 years of annual visits I now feel to be my second home.

This last Wednesday was Galungan, a Balinese holiday celebrating the victory of dharma over adharma. It marks the time when the ancestral spirits visit the Earth and lasts for ten days until Kuningan when the spirits leave once more. Outside each family compound a penjor is constructed and stands nodding in the breeze. The penjor is a tall, curved bamboo pole decorated with leaves, cloth, shiny ribbon (I even saw one sporting small, metallic snowflakes!) and each has an offering at the base. All are different as the elements from which they are made are put together in a surprisingly varied way.

There's something about the way of life in Bali that alters ones perception of time.  Days fly by but little happens as the exotic atmosphere and warmth encourages an indolence that is at odds with the Type A's (that's me) of the Western world. Strangely, over the years I have come to accept this and even embrace it. Of course, being with family means that there are things to do, places to go and games to play but there is something about the pace of the tropics that makes you breathe deep and relax like you just can’t do at home.  

As I mentioned in an earlier blog, Bali is a feast for the eyes as there is so much intense colour wherever you look. It's this richness of colour which has made me paint the way I do and inspires the textures and patterns that I love to incorporate into my work. In Bali, any colour combination is acceptable and with the bright light always works well. Northern hemisphere rules of colour combining don't apply with glorious result.

Whatever the occasion, and this is a cremation procession, brightly hued kebayas and sarongs are the preferred dress.


 Vividly coloured, woven Balinese Songket


The Balinese are a remarkably creative people and there is beauty in almost everything they make. Be it woodcarving, stone carving, painting (with some very notable exceptions produced for the tourist industry), textiles or simply the offerings and decorations made in the compounds for the many ceremonies, art is everywhere.


Anak Agung Gede Sobrat:  At the Market


 Carved and painted door by Made Aswino Aji

 Stonecarver Ongky Wijana decorating a column at his home in Silakarang.

see more of Ongy's work at


The ornately crafted penjors sway gently in the breeze.


Penjor base with gold printed prada cloth.


Home once again it is wonderful to see afresh the different hues of this beautiful island. The subtle greens, the purple heather, the golden gorse and rich browns of newly ploughed fields are a different palette altogether but a welcome one.  Now it is rich Autumn, soon to be followed by dark winter days but in my memory the hot colours of the tropics will remain with me until Spring.


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