POST C: Five Art Studio

Whilst in Indonesia, I wanted to learn as many traditional crafts as I could. As I was walking around Bali I noticed many beautiful stone and wood carved statues, souvenirs, and designs on the exterior of homes and temples. I had the opportunity to go into a woodcarving family compound to learn about their process. After seeing this, I wanted to learn the technique myself.

I did a bit of research and discovered Five Art Studio based in Ubud, within Keliki Village. They offer a number of different workshops taught by the owner, Wayan Suardana (Kojex), and other local artists. Some of the art classes offered include keliki painting, batik, silver making, wood and stone carving. There are also some classes such as Balinese dance and religious offering classes that allow you to learn more about the Balinese culture.

Unfortunately when I arrived the person who taught wood carving was not there but I decided to try keliki painting instead. Whilst learning the intricacy of keliki painting, I talked to Wayan about what he did and how he began his own studio.


(Photograph by Jeremy 2017)

Growing up in a family of artists, art was part of every aspect of young Wayan’s life. His parents owned their own studio and this is how he learnt to paint and draw at a very young age. Growing up, he learnt a number of other traditional crafts including batik. As Wayan is working with other local artists with different skills, he gets to observe and learn as well.

Wayan wanted to open his own studio in which he named Five Art Studio. He believes that the skills of various ‘traditional arts are being lost and forgotten’, and hopes to keep these art forms alive which is why he began offering workshops. The workshops are offered to people from all over the world who are interested and willing to learn about the traditional arts and culture of Bali. He hopes that they will remember these skills and take them back to where they are from. Wayan also wants to share his knowledge with the local children which he offers painting lessons and English lessons to.

It is agreed ‘that many of Indonesia’s traditions are indeed fragile and in jeopardy (Taylor 1994 p.7), however ‘we cannot seem to agree on, why this is so, or what needs to be done (Taylor 1994 p.7).’

From talking to my local Balinese driver I discovered that one of the causes may be due to the growing tourism sector. The driver’s father is a wood carver however the skills were never passed onto him as he had no interest in wood carving and wanted to work within the tourism sector. Similarly, his uncle changed professions to work in tourism. The skills involved in creating traditional arts in Indonesia is historically passed down through family. If the younger generation decides to continually refuse to learn these skills, they will eventually be lost.

Five Art Studio, Welcome to Five Art Studio, viewed 16 February 2017, <>

Taylor, P. (ed.) 1994, Fragile Traditions: Indonesian Art in Jeopardy, University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu.

Wagner, F. 1959, Indonesia: The Art of An Island Group, Methuen, London.

Wayan 2017, Interviewed by Jessica Xie, Bali, 24 January 2017.

Feature Image:

Five Art Studio n.d., viewed 16 February 2017, <>


Taken by Jeremy 2017

POST D: The Barong Dance

Indonesia has a number of traditional cultural dances that tell various stories and are believed to have an added spiritual meaning.

In my time in Bali I was able to see the Barong dance in Ubud. The dance tells of a battle between the good versus the evil spirit. The good is represented through the character of the Barong, a lion-like creature. Whilst the bad is represented through the witch, Rangda.

The hour long dance starts off with the Barong shown as a playful character, dancing around. Rangda then makes her appearance and the Barong takes on the role of the protector. The two fight with their magical powers but they are equally as powerful. The men, Barong supporters, aid him by trying to stab Rangda. However, Rangda uses her powers to put the men in a trance and in turn they try to stab themselves. Barong casts a spell which protects the men from their blades and Rangda runs off, defeated.


(Photograph by Dodik 2017)

After the dance, I had a discussion with my Balinese driver where I learnt that the Barong dance has a much deeper meaning than just story telling for the people of Bali. The one hour dance I saw was just a shortened version. The sacred dance is performed on special occasions and in ceremonies, and can go up to many hours. It is also performed when there is misfortune or illness in the village, intending to drive away the evil spirits (Hobart 2003).

The masks of the Barong and Rangda are considered sacred items, before they are brought out they are to be to be sprinkled with holy water by a priest. Offerings are presented before the show and the priest must be present until the end of the show to sprinkle holy water on the Barong supporters to end their trance.


(Barong Mask 1900-1950)

The costumes of each character has many layers and sometimes involves more than one person to play it. The Barong costume is sometimes made with real gold reflecting the importance placed on this character. The price of the costume can range from $2000 to $10,000 AUD.

Less ornate versions of the Barong masks can be found in most woodcarving shops. The Barong symbolises the protective god and therefore the masks are sometimes hung near doorways to repel evil spirits and bring about positive energy to the home.

Annenberg Foundation, n.d., Barong Mask, viewed 16 February 2017, <>

Bali and Indonesia on the Net n.d., The Barong Dance of Bali, Indonesia, viewed 16 February 2017, <>

Indo Bali Hotel n.d., Bali Dance, Indonesia, viewed 16 February 2017, <>

Hobart, A. 2003, Healing Performances of Bali: Between Darkness and Light, Berghahn Books, Oxford, New York.

Feature Image:

Pratama, W. 2013, <>

Image 1:

Taken by Dodik 2017

Image 2:

Barong Mask, c. 1900-1950, Fowler Museum UCLA, viewed 16 February 2017, <;id=X76.1970A;type=101>

POST B: Building a Sustainable Modern Town

Kalu Yala is a sustainable village being developed in the jungle outside of Panama City, located within the Tres Brazos Valley. The aim of this town is to create a better approach to living.

Jimmy Stice, the CEO, begun this initiative because he wanted to created ‘a community, a hub of positivity and social entrepreneurship that used greening and eco-friendly, sustainable methods of building to attract the type of investors and in turn tourists who believed in creating a new type of world’ (Slavin, A. 2012).

(What Took You So Long? 2014)

The organisation is for-profit, offering an internship study abroad program for students to get hands on experience as part of their research and development team. The interns are split into 3 groups depending on their disciplines. The business interns work from an office in Panama City, whilst the biology, sustainable agriculture and outdoor recreation interns work in the valley, and the public education and health/wellness work in a nearby village.

Kalu Yala is a design initiative not only focusing on improving just one public health problem but is trying to improve a number of issues such as depletion of resources, health, education and more. The education interns teach in four schools near San Miguel, while the health interns research local health issues find resources that are available to improve them. They work closely with the local villages, supporting local businesses, improving their livelihoods, and utilising the area’s natural resources.


(Petronzio, M. 2014)

At the moment housing in the valley has not been constructed only designed, and the first interns that lived in the valley had to build living spaces from scratch. Utilising the available resources, they built huts from wood and thatched roofing. Solar battery packs as well as hydroelectricity from the flow of a nearby river allows them to have electric power. Some food is grown in the farm onsite reducing the amount of food that needs to be imported and local produce is used too.

These sustainable tools of living will be utilised to create an entire town and will hopefully pave the way for more individuals around the world to think about improving their way of living. Following Kalu Yala’s footsteps throughout different impoverished tropic regions may also improve the world’s poverty. Currently more than 40% of the world’s poverty is in tropic areas and this percentage is expected to rise (State of the Tropics, n.d). By utilising readily available materials, creating a self sufficient town, and working with locals there could be a real improvement to this world wide issue.

Kalu Yala 2016, Public Health, viewed 15 February, <>

Petronzio, M. 2014, Building the World’s Most Sustainable Modern Town, Mashable, viewed 15 February, <>

State of the Tropics, n.d., Projecting the Tropics – Population Growth 2010-2050, viewed 15 February, <>

Chapman, K. 2013, ‘A Visit to New Urbanist Jungle Community Kalu Yala in the Republic of Panama’, weblog, Hope For Architecture, Oklahoma, viewed 15 February, <>

Slavin, A. 2012, ‘The World of Kalu Yala’, Huffington Post, viewed 15 February, <>

Feature Image:

Chapman, K. 2013, ‘A Visit to New Urbanist Jungle Community Kalu Yala in the Republic of Panama’, weblog, Hope For Architecture, Oklahoma, viewed 15 February, <>


What Took You So Long? 2014, Kalu Yala – Building a New World in the Panamanian Jungle, videorecording, Vimeo, <>

POST A: Spiritual and Cultural Influences in Bali

Design is ultimately shaped by culture. This can particularly be seen in Bali’s traditional architecture which is influenced by the islands’ spiritual and cultural beliefs, resources, and traditional arts.

Even before arriving in Bali, I found many accommodations offering villas that had separate buildings for bedrooms, lounging areas, and kitchens. This intrigued me as someone living in Australia, it seemed odd that living areas were so far away from each other.

Upon further research, I found that this idea of a compound of the home is heavily influenced by the Balinese spiritual and cultural beliefs, along with Balinese Hinduism. There are many different concepts that dictate how, why, and where certain parts of the home have to be, however I will only be discussing two.

Tri Angga is the belief that ‘everything in the natural world can be divided into three parts/realms’ (Davison 2014, chapter 2, para. 2). The high part is connected to heaven, gods, ancestors, and identified with mountains. The low part is linked to hell, bad spirits, the dead, and is identified with the sea. Whilst the middle part is the human world. The home compound is designed following this belief with family temples closest to the mountains, the kitchen and rubbish closest to the sea, and the bedrooms in between.

Another concept is Tri Hita Karana, the idea of harmonious and balanced relationship between the people, nature, and gods (Volunteer Programs Bali 2015). Keeping this in mind, the compound is designed with many open spaces allowing the people to be close to the gardens and natural environment. The natural landscape is mostly left untouched and the huts are also created using natural, readily available resources such as bamboo, grass thatch, various types of wood and stone.

The natural environment is balanced with the placement of statues of gods through out the gardens. The protective gods are also presented through stone and wood carvings within the interior and exterior of the homes, in particularly around the doorways to keep evil spirits out. The carvings are not just seen as an art, craft, or design to the locals, but as a tool with spiritual importance.

There is such a big influence of spiritual and cultural belief that runs through Balinese people in their everyday life that is incredibly different to Australia. The way they plan and build their homes is directly influenced by their beliefs and their art forms always have a special meaning, symbolising something spiritual. This is a great contrast with Australia where we build our homes based on function and aesthetic only.

Bali Mountain Retreat n.d., Culture: Learn More about Balinese Tradition and Hinduism, Bali, viewed 15 February 2017, <>

Central Bureau of Statistics (BPS) 2010, Population by Region and Religion Embraced, Indonesia, viewed 15 February 2017, <>

Living in Indonesia n.d., Indonesia Arts and Crafts, viewed 15 February 2017, <>

Volunteer Programs Bali 2015, Tri Hita Karana: The Balinese Way of Life, viewed 15 February 2017, <>

Davison, J. 2014, Balinese Architecture, Google Books, viewed 15 February 2017, <>


Davison, J. 2014, Balinese Architecture, Google Books, viewed 15 February 2017, <>