Bali – and Indonesia as a whole- is one of my favourite countries in the world. I used to spend a lot of time there in my youth while working as a self employed journalist and, hanging in there for dear life, devised one devious plot after the next in order to produce newsworthy articles and photos for my Swedish paymasters so as to persuade them to fund another week, another month! in paradise.
‘ The night I walked across burning coals’…’20 ways to use the coconut plant’ ( fibers for rope and basket weaving, oils for cooking, face creams and luscious massage oils plus of course the health giving properties of the king coconut water, to mention but a few)… ‘Argonauts of the Pacific Ocean’ ( after Malinowski’s reports on the Kula ring, an ancient trading route starting off in Papua New Guinea)
But then I got married. And divorced. And my husband took me to court for maintenance and as a result I have very much been stuck in Hastings, crippled by debts. Just as well that I love Hastings to distraction!
But Bali. The nights spent around a village temple somewhere, watching the shadow play puppets and later on the young girls of the village dancing the Legong accompanied by a gamalan orchestra. The air thick with the smells of clove cigarettes, frangipani flowers and tantalising food from the all night food market. An easy way of living from one day to the next, engulfed in beauty. Drowsy with pleasure.
I often dream of Bali. Last time I went there, I almost died in a fire; I only escaped because I woke up in time to see the flames engulfing my thatch roofed, wooden villa. I had to rush past the fire and, coughing and spitting, on to the safety of the night time garden.
I made this ceramic plaque for myself, really. It is a lullaby, an invocation: a way to calm myself down and remember. Bali. The terror and the delight.
Ceramic plaque, 40cm x30 cm