Winter Wonderland: Learn, Look, Lux

Day 3: Part 1/3
December 6th, 2018

Today we set off early to make the most of this glorious day. Our generous host Made kindly acting as our local guide and translator. He introduced us to the nearby schools in the area, associated with his family. We would never have gained such access or insight if it had not been for his kind efforts, plus it was great fun.

Kindergarden Visit

First up a visit to a small privately run playgroup. Prunella used her teaching skills to lead the kids in ‘Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes’ (which the students already knew in English). There were oodles of stunningly beaming children who were fascinated by the idea of travelling kids from Australia. We loved their intricate, colourful clothes plus all the giggles. They were all so sweet and clever.

Nathan’s School

Next we visited Nathan’s elementary school. We were there early and the children were still busy cleaning the school before classes began. They showed us their many buildings, playgrounds and library which were impressive by Balinese standards.

Balinese art

Then we visited a local art gallery. The owner took it upon himself to show us around personally and we were impressed by the diverse styles and pure talent of the many artists showcased. Every thing from deeply traditional to hipster contemporary.

The pre-War modernisation of Balinese art emanated from three villages: Ubud, Sanur and Batuan

Ubud has been the center of art for centuries, with the surrounding royal houses and temples being the main patrons. Prior to the 1920s, traditional wayang style paintings dominated the subject matter. Under the patronage of the Ubud royal family, the Pitamaha Art Guild was founded in 1936 as a way to professionalise Balinese painting. Pitamaha was active until the beginning of the second world war in 1942. The subject matters shifted from religious narration to Balinese daily life.

The western influence in Batuan did not reach the intensity it had in Ubud. Batuan paintings were often dark, crowded representations of either legendary scenes or themes from daily life, but they portrayed above all fearsome nocturnal moments when grotesque spooks, freakish animal monsters, and witches accosted people. Gradations of black to white ink washes laid over most of the surface, so as to create an atmosphere of darkness and gloom. In the later years, the designs covered the entire space, which often contributed to the crowded nature of these paintings.

Tourists in the 1930s came to Bali on cruise ships, docking in Sanur. The beach, full of outriggers and open horizon, provided local artists with a visual environment different from the hinterland. The paintings are lighter and airy with sea creatures, erotic scenery and wild animals drawn in rhythmic patterns; often in an Escher-like manner.

Other art movements worth mentioning is the “child like” drawings of the Young Artists School that catered to tourists, Keliki miniature painting which emerged in the 1970’s and fingerprint painting made famous by I Gusti Ngurah Gede Pemecutan. All these art styles are still popular today.

extract/adapted from wiki

One idea that has always stayed with us about Balinese art ideology is that there is no such thing as a formal label of “artist” in Balinese culture. Locals say that art is just a part of life and we all have the potential to create things of beauty. The locals practice art in all that they do, their cooking, the way they dress, dance and their religious devotion. They create & inspire. They appreciate art in their homes, their temples and in nature…


We had a late english brekkie at an upmarket restaurant, overlooking lush green fields. There was an endearingly annoying cat, and Lucas left his hat behind. (It was later retrieved and returned to us). Whilst Made left to run some errands, the boys got their hair cut. Then, just for a treat Prunella and the boys had a mani-pedi. We spent some time sitting on the step of the beauty parlour talking to the ladies and helping them make offerings to sell. This was followed by a far-too-spicy lunch and a long, hot, walk home. However, the heat was mitigated by occasional ice-creams and drinks.

We had done a lot already and the day was only half over…

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