Friday was a “rest day” for me. Um, interesting definition of rest. Six of us had decided to take part in a class at Arma Museum in the morning. From the Arma website:
Agung Rai Museum of Art (ARMA) was established for a purpose. Founded by Agung Rai, a Balinese who has devoted his life to the preservation and development of Balinese art and culture, the museum was officially opened on June 9, 1996 by Prof. Dr. Ing. Wardiman Djojonegoro, Minister of Education and Culture of the Republic of Indonesia. The museum is administered by ARMA Foundation set up on May13th 1996.
- to collect and preserve artworks
- to develop and preserve the art of painting, sculpture, dance, music, and various other cultural art forms
- to provide means and infrastructure for the local society to learn various artistic skills.
The permanent exhibition of paintings by Balinese, Indonesian and foreign artists include the collections of the ARMA Foundation and works on loan from the collection of Mr. and Mrs. Agung Rai.
The collection ranges from traditional to contemporary, including classical Kamasan painting on tree bark, masterpieces by Batuan artists of the 1930s and 1940s and the only works to be seen on the island of Bali by 19th century Javanese artist Raden Saleh and Syarif Bustaman.
Prominent are works by Balinese masters such as I Gusti Nyoman Lempad, Ida Bagus Made, Anak Agung Gede Sobrat and I Gusti Made Deblog.
Foreign artists who lived and worked in Bali are represented by Willem Gerard Hofker, Rudolf Bonnet, and Willem Dooijewaard among others. The works of German painter Walter Spies have a special place in the collection because of his important contribution to the development of Balinese arts.
ARMA is more than a museum. It is a centre for visual and performing arts, allowing the visitor to enjoy the permanent collection of paintings, special temporary exhibitions, theatre performances, dance, music and painting classes, bookshop, library and reading room, cultural workshops, conferences, seminars and training programs. Its vision is to become an internationally renowned museum of Balinese and Indonesian culture by organizing events showing the uniqueness and diversity of this culture. The museum provides many quality services to people from various cultural backgrounds. It serves people who wish to experience and learn about Bali’s unique cultural heritage. ARMA functions as a living entity, always on the look out for new opportunities to sustain the Balinese arts.
We had opted for a two hour class in basket weaving. Upon arrival we were led to a traditional raised platform, where our two instructors were waiting with the tools that we would need to produce a simple coaster. They used palm leaves that had been dried and cut into strips, some naturally dyed as well into shades of brown and black. Rattan was also used as a filler to give stability and structure. There were also sharp awls, used to pierce the palm leaf strips, and super sharp knives used to cut both the palm strips and the rattan. We left the knives to our instructors!
The process began by coiling lengths of palm leaf into a very tight spiral. This took a bit of practice, and some assistance to make the coil super tight so that it was very hard and stable. This formed a disc for us to weave around. Once the disc was large enough we wrapped palm fronds around it, through the centre hole, around the outside, then back through the centre hole until it was completely covered.
The next step involved the rattan. A piece of rattan was coiled around the disc, and the awl was used to pierce holes one at a time in the palm that had wrapped the initial spiral. Then around we went! It is meant to be done evenly, but that clearly takes a bit of practice. A second layer of rattan and weaving later, then a third round with just palm strips, and it was all done! It took us a little over two hours just to make one coaster, but Nyoman, one of our instructors, says that she can weave one in around one hour.
Nyoman showed us some of her other weaving, and I couldn’t resist and bought a bowl that she had made. It had taken her a little over one day. I really enjoy buying direct from the maker.
The class was actually very relaxing and almost meditative. The surroundings were beautiful, the company and conversation highly enjoyable, and although I was taking part in an activity it was an excellent way to wind down. After the class we wandered through the Arma gardens. It really is an oasis. I decided not to actually examine the artworks inside the museum, as I was approaching sensory overload, but I will definitely return the next time I am in Bali.
We caught a taxi back into the centre of town then walked back to the resort. The business of central Ubud reminded me that I really do prefer to shop in smaller quieter areas. Our resort is not actually in Ubud proper, but an adjoining area called Penestenan. It’s not as frantic, and it’s cool and away from the general rush, yet close enough to Ubud to walk in to the centre of town or get a quick taxi or shuttle ride. The street outside the resort has a lovely collection of shops, cafes and restaurants and Cantika spa is very close by as well. There are little laneways among rice fields and it is great for a wander. If (when!) I return with my family we’ll probably stay in Penestenan again.
By this stage our group was down to two people. Kate and I found Warung Mendez right near the resort. It was a small local place and served us up some of the best food we have eaten while in Bali. An excellent drink made from cinnamon, ginger and lemongrass, Balinese noodles for main, and the most scrumptious pudding for dessert. Oh, it was SO good!
I followed lunch with another trip to Cantika spa. This time I had a facial. In my opinion there is nothing quite like a facial for relaxation! I’m not sure how many different lotions and masks were applied, but it was at least six. At Cantika a facial also includes an arm and foot massage, as well as plenty of neck and head massage. I think it was my favourite spa treatment of the holiday. I’m hoping to return this afternoon to sample more of their menu.
As as per our routine we had cocktails at Element before a delicious traditional Balinese feast that the resort restaurant, Sanjiwani, had prepared especially for us. It was divine! We have done incredibly well with food over the past week. As much as I am not interested in cooking, I am definitely interested in eating! It was our final evening together, and after the meal we took the opportunity to do some “show and tell” of the items we had purchased over the past week. I’ll do a blog post later with the things that I bought.
It’s lovely to have a couple of wind-down days at the end of the trip. I don’t head to the airport until the evening – my flight home is at 11.30pm – so I’m really looking forward to having an indulgent and relaxing time today. I have managed to finish reading one novel while I’ve been here, so let’s see if I can make a start on another!