Thursday, June 16, 2011

HECTOR'S DIARY (Bali Advertiser, June 15, 2011)

A New Bloom
in Ubud’s
Art Garden

Australian QC and long-term Bali resident Colin McDonald had a big day at the end of May when his Made Budhiana and Donald Friend galleries opened in the grounds of Villa Pandan Harum, his hideaway pad at Abiansel just south of Ubud.
    McDonald, who is a member of both the Victorian and Northern Territory bars, maintains a house in Darwin – guess if you can’t be permanently in Bali Darwin’s a reasonable climatic substitute and it is only just over two hours away by air – as well as his Ubud residence,
    His opening, on May 28, brought together an eclectic gathering for a grand opening of his novel galleries that torrential rain the previous night did nothing to spoil. Veteran Australian diplomat and friend of Indonesia Dick Woolcott did the honours as opener-in-chief. McDonald said a few words, welcoming those “whose generosity of spirit and love of art and Indonesia has brought them to this opening” and noting – with justified pride – that the event realised a long-held dream.
    As well as the two galleries, housed in a building on the villa block but separate from the main residence, McDonald has provided an apartment for artists in residence. Bali inspires much art and the Ubud area, where the ancient traditions of the island and the imported collective consciousness of the world’s artistic community combine to greatest effect, is certainly an environment that is conducive to reflection and the exercise of great skill.
    The Donald Friend gallery includes Friend’s last painting: truly a collector’s item. The work of Made Budhiana that is on display reflects the power the artist brings to depiction of Bali in the artistic form that has long captured the attention of art lovers around the globe.
    McDonald’s connection with Bali goes back many years and mirrors the increasingly close interest of the Northern Territory and its capital city Darwin in events and issues here, pointed up most recently by the proposal – now being worked through and also involving McDonald’s strong advocacy – to twin Sanglah General Hospital in Denpasar with Royal Darwin.
    McDonald was also involved in the defence case for Bali Nine member Scott Rush, now finally (and thankfully) spared the death penalty.
   The Diary on its visit to Villa Pandan Harum on gallery opening weekend also had the pleasure of chatting with Australian artist Geoff Todd, some of whose works are in McDonald’s private collection. These are striking and occasionally confronting paintings that one would wish were in one’s own collection.

Youth Speaks

It’s really cheering to hear from 2011 Ubud Writers and Readers Festival program director Melissa Delaney that the inaugural Bali Emerging Writers Festival (BEWF) in Denpasar was a great success. This is sort of extension service for which friends of UWRF have been waiting anxiously to see eventuate.
    BEWF was held from 27-29 May and was designed to promote and support the essential literary voices of tomorrow. Over the three days the festival presented a range of workshops for young people, panel discussions, performances, slam poetry and a celebration night on Saturday, 28 May featuring performances by local bands including Morelia, Nymphea, Day After the Rain and Ripper Clown. We hear there was much dancing.
    It featured more than 30 writers from around Indonesia and also West Australian performance poet David Vincent Smith (sponsored by the government of Western Australia) in the poetry slam. Guest writers included poet Iyut Fitra from Payakumbah; writer, journalist and documentary maker Ayu Diah Dempaka; Ni Made Purnamasri; and the award winning poet Rosa Herliany.
    Young writers had access to the words and experience of the guest writers through the panels, workshops and performances  which covered topics from blogging and social media, teen lit, short story writing, the ins and outs of publishing through to poetry writing.
    Delaney tells us the success of the inaugural emerging writers’ event means there will be another next year.
    UWRF this year, themed Cultivate the Land Within, is from October 5-9.

Rock On

When you have a facility such as the Rock Bar at Ayana Resort & Spa, all sorts of people want to go there. The Diary drops in occasionally for a spectacular sunset. But no one takes our photo when we do.
    If you are the reigning Miss World, however, and are accompanied by the new Miss Indonesia, snappers appear from everywhere (not counting the ones on your dinner plate later) and take pictures that add considerable human decoration to the natural beauty of the cliff-side and beach environment.
    So it was on June 5. Our photo, courtesy of Ayana’s Facebook page, shows Miss World Alexandria Mills, a fine Kentucky filly, with Miss Indonesia Astrid Ellena, on Kisik Beach below the Rock Bar. The tide was out, which was a good thing for the girls and for members of the Leg Appreciation Society.
   Miss World was in Indonesia to crown Miss Indonesia following the 2011 Indonesia final, held in Jakarta on June 3. Astrid Ellena, 19, beat 32 other finalists to win the event and will represent Indonesia at the 2011 Miss World Final in London on November 6.

A Bit Crass

Profiling gets a bad press. It negatively impacts on the human rights of people, or so it is said, and in any case is not effective in deterring criminal activity or catching people at it. Well, that’s one story. The other story is that profiling works. For example, 100 percent of fanatic Muslim suicide bombers are fanatical Muslims. More prosaically, but actually more importantly, profiling helps in detecting drug smugglers.
    Hence the recent unfortunate interlude at Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport where two Filipinas were detained (for far too long) and subjected to intense questioning and intrusive body searches. From reports of the affair, it was badly handled and crassly dealt with by at least some of the officials involved. That’s bad.
    But the policy is not necessarily bad. Filipinas are not the leading mode of entry of illegal drugs into Bali, but they appear in the profile of cases. If these things are handled correctly – and they always should be – no one sensible would cavil at being checked. It’s in everyone’s interest to curb the inflow of illegal drugs carried by people who are quite prepared to flout the law and who should pay the price for doing so.
    Perhaps the Philippines authorities, who have indicated some level of irritation over the incident, would like to fully inform themselves about the pervasive presence of the global drug-smuggling market.

Good Sports

The Diary has a lovely young friend – her name is Ayu, though for us it’s Berliana, and she’s nearly five and is the daughter of a young woman who once worked for us – who is a cheery little soul. She was at our house one Sunday recently and left with a present, a little bag of personal care items, the gift of the Distaff who keeps a stock of such items against the statistical likelihood of random visits.
    But what she really wants, it seems, is a dog and a brother; possibly in that order, maybe not. Her mum tells us Ayu has been pressing her parents to produce both and, in relation to the brother, has apparently learned from an older friend that to make babies parents much engage in sport at bedtime.
    We gather that, thus informed, Ayu has banned mum Komang and dad Agus from retiring for the night before they have completed a vigorous session of sit-ups and push-ups, of the sort you see on television when a sporting match is about to begin.

Good to Be Here

Hector is pleased as punch to be in the Bali Advertiser and hopes readers enjoy his musings as much as he enjoys jotting them down. Drop him a line if you’ve got something you think will interest him.

Hector's Diary is (c) Bali Advertiser.

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