Can you imagine anywhere in the world where for 24 hours the entire population is required to stay home, be quiet and use no electric lights?
Here in Bali each year for one day, Nyepi, that is exactly what happens.
In complete contrast, on the evening before Nyepi giant Ogoh Ogoh are paraded on the streets with much noise, excitement and commotion. These effigies are so frightening and scarey that any evil spirits that might be lurking around are so spooked that they all flee Bali. the next day in silence and darkness the evils are unable to find their way back home again and thereby have to search for a new home leaving Bali evil free…. …
Sometimes weeks, even months can go by and its easy to get caught up in the hum drum of ‘life as normal’ forgetting that I live on the exotic and magical Island of Bali.
This morning, though, I woke to the sound of Gamelon and the reminder that Bali is a land where the connection to the Gods and spirits are part of daily life for Balinese people. Wandering onto the street in front of my house this morning I sat and witnessed about an hour of Bali culture as a huge procession passed by. Today is Melasti day of purification when offerings are taken to the ocean . Not a day for tourists to be taking a driving tour of Bali, streets all over Bali will be filled with thousands of families taking part in these processions and traffic will be at a stand still.
3 more important ceremonies will take place over the next few weeks, but the most unusual and dramatic of all happens next week.
On Monday night Ogoh Ogoh are paraded through the streets, with much noise and excitement. These huge scary effigies have taken months to make and are spectacular. Their job is to scare away any evil spirits.
The following day Bali is quiet and dark, the evil spirits are confused, they cant see or hear anything here so they leave, Bali is now safe – for another year…
On Nyepi, the silent day, everyone is required to stay at home, you may not go onto the street, work, make noise or use electricity, including lights. The airport is even closed as the lsland falls into silence and in the evening no lights are turned on so the island is also in total darkness. The chaos and madness that you normally associate with Bali are gone and peace decends on this island of the Gods… for one day of the year !
This year Nyepi falls on my Birthday, so I will not be celebrating this year, I will stay home and be quiet and sit in the dark like the Balinese. Perhaps as the evils leave Bali they will also leave me alone and I will have an evil free year, I can only hope !
Kiwi Green Smoothie
Pick 4 or 5 leaves of silverbeet (chard) from your organic garden – mine, thanks to Dad for growing this especially for the 2 months that I am back in New Zealand for every year !!
Select your fruit , this morning I have 1 apple, 3 locally grown Kiwifruit, 3 slices of Pineapple ( imported, not grown in NZ ! ) 5 or 6 strawberries also from the garden. Any fruit will do. Half a banana is always good… yesterday I had half a dozen plums but a wee bit bitter and a pain taking out the stones.
Add a tiny bit of liquid, orange juice, apple juice or water – chuck it all in the blender and wizz up until all the green is well and truly munched up.
Breakfast is served !! This should be the first thing consumed every morning – then follow up with wholemeal toast with NZ butter and Vegemite ( we will go back to Marmite when the Marmite factory in Christchurch is rebuilt after earthquake damage ! ) and a pot of Sumartra coffee ( which I brought home with me from Bali ) ahhhhhhh….
The Pohutukawa tree, we call it the New Zealand Christmas tree, and when it blossoms early,
like this year, It means we are in for a great summer.
Coming home to New Zealand every year is like a total refresh. The clean, green, natural beauty is equally as inspiring as my life in Bali and I enjoy the contrast. Not long now and I’ll be heading back to the Indonesian chaos – but for the moment I’ll be soaking up the peace and tranquility here in the Coromandel.
Photos 2 – 5 Taranaki, the first and last 3 photos from where I live in Pauanui.
Back home for Christmas and the New Zealand summer …
Every January I exhibit my new work at my NZ studio in Pauanui, a favorite summer holiday destination for Kiwis and visitors from overseas.. this is a great time for me and I get to sell direct to the art loving public before my new work goes into the commercial galleries and Art shops. My studio is open until the 20th of January. I will be returing to Bali on the 24th Jan !
We also hold a group New years exhibition at the shopping centre for 2 days with artists coming from all around the North Island, attracting lots of people and great sales again this year…
Up till 3am painting and too much looking at the computer screen … in order to give my eyes a break from too much ‘close up’ I take a stroll around the garden with my mug of coffee and camera…
Last night at the supermarket I watched a kid of about 10 or 11 totally nutting out to the beat of his own inner drum. The mad thing was that nobody seemed to even notice him. I, on the other hand, was overcome by fits of laughter that continued all the way home and for hours afterward.
I wasn’t laughing at him, I was laughing with excitement and joy at the feeling of freedom he seemed to embody. He was so uninhibited and was in that moment experiencing a spontaneous, authentic, act of self-expression. It was wonderful.
Still laughing and bubbling over with joy as I lay down to sleep last night I wondered why his display affected me so deeply. As my friend reminded me, kids do stuff like that all the time. But for some reason, in that time and place, that kid cracked my shell, or should I say armor. As adults we have learned to control our emotions to the point that our bubbly and wild inner child heart is held in tight reign by our conditioning, fear, shame and what we consider to be socially acceptable behavior. What would happen if a grown up suddenly erupted in an unprompted dance in the middle of a crowded supermarket? seriously ? … even my slightly crazy laughter was met with frowns, and believe me it was all I could do to hold myself back from breaking out some moves of my own, being so caught up in the moment and suddenly carefree as I was …
I remember a charming old movie from the 80′s called Cocoon. Old folk swam with these life giving cocoons which later hatched into friendly aliens…. The aliens were living on a boat at sea dressed in human skins so as to be taken for normal people. At night they unzipped the skins to reveal their true selves – radiant, glowing, light beings. I believe I caught a glimpse of that radiance yesterday in that kid and it was perfectly and wonderfully infectious…
Thanks kid, whoever you are, you really made my day !
The season is definitely changing now – It’s becoming too hot to work inside – so I’m now working out on the deck.
My new studio space is cool and breezy !
With only about 6 week now until I return with my work to show in New Zealand, I’m working flat out to be ready in time.
Whoop whoop – after a fairly easy pace for most of 2012, I’m finally getting fired up – matching the climate hmmmm…
Cool and colourful La Plancha at Seminyak beach is one of Bali ‘s hot spots for sunset drinks. Their parties are also legendary with top DJ’s and bands and packed out with barefoot sand groovers till sunrise… Last night’s charity concert party was a blast! thanks again La Plancha for another memorable night out.
Its Galungan time again. Bali is at its most pretty during this festive holiday and people travel home to their villages for one of the most important ceremonies in the Bali calendar.
My friend and I traveled to Candi Dasa in east Bali to hang out in our favorite secluded beach spot…
A spontaneous decision to go to Ubud for the day on Saturday was rewarded by running into a huge cremation ceremony. Now this may sound morbid, but actually the Balinese have a very complex and sacred process to send their loved ones on their way and a cremation is always an amazing, spectacular and vibrant affair.
It costs a lot of money for a cremation and so often families wait until an auspicious day in the Bali calendar and have a group cremation with families sharing the costs. Several years ago I was lucky enough to be at a royal cremation, also in Ubud, at this ceremony hundreds of cremations happened on the same day .
Bodies are usually temporarily buried for different lengths of time, often years, waiting for an appropriate date in the Balinese calendar. Bodies are placed in the funeral pyre which is a decorated man made bull. These are then paraded in the street with several men carrying them on bamboo platforms on their shoulders. On the way there is much noise , running around in circles and water being sprayed. They are taken to the cremation area to be burned. The ashes are then gathered and taken to either a river or the ocean.
The end of one painting cycle…
This latest diptych is inspired by a Haiku written by the commissioner. I have focused on the feet of both horse and rider – the horses galloping along in a powerful stride and the rider, with his feelings of being able to fly, literally leaves the ground.
This was the last in a series of commissions I have been working on since the beginning of this year.
My Studio is now quiet and strangely empty…
…The beginning of a new cycle
Now that I have come to the end of the commissions I have only 6 months to paint a series of works to exhibit in New Zealand in January. So its back to work for me and time to think about what I want to focus on for the next series.
I have been to my frame maker this morning and placed an order for my new frames… a beginning !
Now I need to think about what I intend to paint… I was explaining to my friend, yesterday, that a new idea, as it begins to form, is like waking in the morning and trying to recollect the dream you were just having… its kinda just beyond reach but you still ” feel” its presence. During this time I prepare my canvas’s … stretching , priming and underpainting … this is what I call the meditative stage. The ideas and feeling somehow come together and then a burst of creative power erupts…
Arriving in Singapore from my home in Bali is like arriving in the future. Love and Bless Indonesia, but its a nice change to have all things running smoothly and on time, nothing is broken, its clean and tidy and the locals are all so well dressed , plus the men are hot!!
I always enjoy my break in Singapore. It has it all. With 4 main cultures living in harmony together you can travel a few moments in the MRT and experience a whole new vibe, not to mention menu ! when you emerge from the underground. My last post was photos from Chinatown… now here’s the ultra modern skyscape…
One of the most popular carts at the night market in Denpasar is Roti Bakar. Not for the weight watchers, the health conscious or the faint hearted !
Take 2 big slabs of white bread
generously sprinkle chocolate chips all over one piece of bread
smother it with lashings of condensed milk
slam the 2 sides of bread together and completely cover all sides with heaps of butter
Jalan jalan – out driving around, which is one of my favorite thing to do to gather inspiration.
This morning my motor bike is being decorated and blessed. In the Balinese calender, today is ‘ Tumpek Landep ‘ - the day to give thanks to Sang Hyang Pasupati, The God who gave metal to Mankind.
All metal objects are blessed today from cars and motorbikes, farm equipment and tools to kitchen utensils, computers and cameras.
Artist and Activist Pande Putu has installed this protest piece in the green rice fields of north Ubud.
He probably speaks for many of the older local farmers, but it just isn’t in Balinese culture to complain, so most wont speak out about the selling off of rice fields for the building of hotels, resorts and private villas all over Bali.
Ironically, the construction happening on this land is to house Tourists who come into these areas to enjoy and look out at rice fields… now they just face more construction sites… their presence destroying the very thing they came here for.
For the farmers, they face difficult economic decisions. Should they keep their land for future generations and the preservation of Bali culture or take what seems to be a huge amount of money which could benefit their families now, school, car, costs of overdue cremation ceremonies…?
As an expat here in Bali I am constantly aware of the impact myself and others like me are having on the place I have grown to call home. This is an interesting dichotomy for all expats. While we are looked at as being the privileged rich with money to spend here, and why wouldn’t they want some of our free flowing cash, we know that our being here puts the culture we are enjoying into unbalance. We demand the kind of services we feel we need – intentionally forcing change on a culture that, on the other hand, we wish to conserve.
We need to think twice before buying land in poorer foreign country for a luxury 2nd home in a place where our neighbours will still be plowing the land by hand and living off less than $2 a day. As for Pande Putu, well done for speaking out.
On the outskirts of Ubud, Bali, on a typically chaotic street, motorists come to a respectful halt while a procession of women carrying large fruit offerings make their way to the temple.
I am exhibiting 4 paintings in the Baradene Art show this weekend… If you are in Auckland, New Zealand, this is a great Art exhibition, with Artists from all over New Zealand. Check their link below.
This is my latest work, 2 large triangles which sit together to form a larger triangle. There is a Yin / Yang theme, represented by colour, daylight shows the full colour spectrum and moonlight is monochrome … monochrome spaces, left hand background, top right hand flower and pot, balanced with full colour spaces. Banana leaf – male, bamboo – female. Yin is receptive – the bowls while yang is creative which is represented by the bird. I was also asked to include words from a poem about a warm coat and a feast. The coat is obvious and the bowls, of course, represent food. Although the ‘warm coat’ would normally indicate a cold climate, there is a very obvious tropical feel – since I am in Bali !
Below you can follow the progress of the work from a black canvas to its colourful completion.
Recall the teachings
Flight without wings
Secrets in the ginger jar
The fisherman’s wife
See more of this artists work at Tanya Paton’s website