I have always believed that all people are artists and that creative ability and expression are innate and available to everyone.
This notion has never been so plain to see than it is in Bali. I recently spent a hugely inspiring and insightful seven weeks there. Discovering traditional arts and artists, being inspired by the magnificent landscapes and wildlife and visiting and volunteering at two holistic education programs. Throughout my trip I was continually humbled and inspired by the pure creative energy that permeates day to day life in Bali.
Bali has a culture of peoples that are completely devoted to art yet the notion of art as a personal endeavor is completely alien.
It seems poignant that in the Balinese language there is no direct translation for the word ‘art’ or ‘artist’ given that everywhere you look there is an abundance of vibrant creativity and spiritual expression. Art is omnipresent in Bali and it’s people are carried and supported by it throughout the duration of their lives. I was struck as I slowly discovered that most everyone I met regardless of their main profession was a self proclaimed painter, sculptor, dancer or musician.
The spirit of creativity lives strong in Bali and I have been truly inspired by the purity of it’s energy.
Artistic knowledge and practice is open to all people at all levels of class, age and ability. Creativity is a communal endeavor that is woven into the lives of all of Balinese society. The Balinese arts have their roots in the local religion which is a blend of Hinduism and nature worship. Every member of Balinese society is called upon to take part in daily rituals and frequent temple ceremonies, carrying out their craft to serve their community and temple rather than for their own personal reasons. Painting, sculpture, carving, and music permeate the lives of Balinese men, and whilst ceremonial dance occupies the lives of both men and women, it is the women only that channel their creative energy into fashioning lavish offerings to the Gods. Palm leaves are intricately woven into ornaments and hangings, while petals, fruits and incense are arranged into colourful and often extravagant offerings. Balinese people are skilled in many art forms and are equally dedicated to the teaching of them to guarantee that the traditions continue.
In the West artistic skill is taken for personal creative genius, in Bali it is understood to be for the common good. Part of a communities united efforts to entertain and gratify the gods. For this reason I found the creative energy in Bali extremely endearing. It is only in the last 80 years that a commercial art market has developed and the reason for this is to supply the demand of visiting tourists and international collectors. The Balinese peoples are also keen to share their practice with tourists, offering courses and lessons in any number of creative disciplines. I feel like I have learnt such a great deal about what it means to be creative by looking toward the Balinese culture.
I’m gaining more and more insight into some fundamental questions…
Why do I create?..Who do I create for?..
Where does my creative process come from?
…And how do the answers to these questions affect the work I produce?
The fact that creativity is so intimately woven into everyday life has very obvious benefits for Balinese society and I feel like I have gained a great deal of insight into my own practice by speaking, sharing and practicing with the beautiful and generous people of Bali.