During the mid-semester break, 19 students from the Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Visual Arts (ALVA) travelled to Bali as part of the inaugural Bali Art Studio. The studio was offered as an elective unit and was taken by students studying Architecture, Landscape Architecture and Fine Arts.
Students from the program experienced Balinese culture and hospitality at first hand. Formal lessons included language, culture, drawing, printmaking, painting and photographic techniques as well as teachings on Hindu religious concepts central to Balinese culture.
Field work included visits to significant cultural and heritage sites such as the Tirta Empul, the temple of purification and the Kerta Gosa or floating palace, the so-called Sistine Chapel of Indonesia.
Students experienced active rural life in Kamasan village (Klungkung Regency, East Bali). By day they worked at the Wayang Painting School under the watchful eye of Master I Noman Madra. The school teaches traditional painting processes and techniques which are up to four hundred years old.
In the evenings they visited traditional markets and the village of Desa Sente. The rundown village is situated adjacent to the district rubbish dump. The school building has fallen into disrepair due to a lack of funding and there are no basic services such as lighting or sewerage. "This really emphasised the nexus between high culture and the stark reality of the developing world" said Assistant Professor Paul Trinidad.
Students also spent time with members of the Kampung Kompiyang Foundation (a charitable organisation that works with the residents of Desa Sente and assists with the educational development of the children). ALVA students taught local children English songs and in exchange, the children taught them the basics of how to make offerings and traditional dance.
"There is something special in doing an art program in a place like Bali rather than Europe or America; the cultural difference between those places and Australia is nothing in comparison. I think it was a fantastic thing to experience, because sometimes it is difference that helps you to understand what you hold to be true. Sometimes self-definition comes from coming into contact with what you think you are not" said Alex Wolman a 3rd year Fine Arts student.
The assessment of student work was based on their completed assignments and the standard of their artworks; the latter produced for an exhibition held at the Kriya Hasta Mandala Gallery at the completion of the studio.
"According to feedback from students and faculty staff the studio was a great success" said Winthrop Professor Simon Anderson, Dean of the Faculty. "We aim to offer this studio annually and to add another studio programme focusing on Balinese architecture. All of our Balinese activities are the outcomes of the vision of Professor Paul Trinidad who has worked tirelessly for many years to develop the Faculty's special relationship with Bali."
It is planned that the next studio will run in 2012.