Flight of Fancy

A trip to Bali offers arts and inspiration

If you want to thaw out in what I think is the most exotic place in all the world, Bali is definitely the go. Qantas flies there four times a week – direct flights take only three and a half hours, and you have plenty of time to get to Richard Winkler’s opening on August 23 at the Ganesha Gallery.

Richard is a Swedish-born and trained artist. His first introduction to Indonesia came about 20 years ago when he and his now wife started corresponding as pen pals, both with the intention of improving their English!

This exhibition titled images of the Tropics in the Western Psyche explores the perception that in many religions of the world paradise is depicted as a tropical island.

Richard’s work has an inherent sensuality if not eroticism, and at the first impression you have to think of Henri Rousseau and his works of primitive naiveté.

Plants become animal or human like, some paintings feature a fascinating juxtaposition of pastoral scenes inspired directly by Bali and Balinese painting, with misty volcanoes, jungle scenes and rice paddies in the background.

Now settled in Bali, or “bitten by paradise” as he heart’s content and indulge in one of his favorite hobbies gardening in idyllic conditions.

The Ganesha is one of the best and most professionally run art galleries on Bali, established to promote and contemporary Balinese, Indonesian, and International artist who have a strong connection with Bali.

It is situated in the luscious grounds of the original Four Seasons Resort.

Compliments to the West Australian architect Grounds Kent who retained the feel of Bali when they designed it in 1991.

The two years it took to build this hotel reflect the attention to traditional Balinese construction detailing. Local materials were used throughout and the three important areas of Balinese Village planning (the village square, the traditional open pavilion house within a walled courtyard, and the village lane) were prime considerations in the layout. Each guest villa has its own private living pavilion with an open courtyard, and most have their own private swimming pool.

I am told some of the guest go straight to their villa, have room service and do not surface again until it’s time to leave. For the more adventurous, though, there is plenty to see and do…

Jimbaran Bay is the place to go in Bali for a memorable fish and crayfish dinner on the beach. Never mind that the chairs sink into the sand and the toilets are squat ones behind bamboo screens.

Despite being over-run with tourist you can still see locals carrying on their traditional religious life and crafts.

As for the crafts, there are examples everywhere although many are constantly updated to suit European taste. Walking along Sanur Beach I saw painting eggs. These were amazingly delicate pieces, telling folk stories in the traditional manner. The artist told us he’d learned to craft from his father who’d learned from his father, and so on.

A wonderful example of the lifestyle of the Balinese being retained, despite the pressures of tourism, occurred just prior to leaving.

Close to the hotel was a supermarket where I’d seen a “welcome” doormat I felt I could not live without and of course I insisted on “just dashing in” to get same. Get back into the car clutching doormat and wallet but no handbag with ticket, passport and so on. After a quick panic and check that the bag was not in the car, I race back and three it is, sitting undisturbed at the check-out where I’d left it.

I’ve since heard that theft is frowned upon by the Balinese, yet another good reason to visit this beautiful piece of paradise at our doorstep