I am currently on a ten month trip around the world. After having seen the beautiful flower designs created in circular water bowls in Ubud, and seeing the two marble-topped tables sitting on the beach out in front of the Blue Star, Amed, Bali, I was inspired to create mandalas from whatever material could be found on and around the Jemeluk Bay beach.
I wandered up and down the beach collecting different coloured rocks, seed pods, shells, small bamboo offering baskets, bits of broken crockery, and flowers. These I arranged on the table top in concentric circles fanning out from a central core. Later, in the evening, I added small coloured LED lights that I’d brought from home to the composition. I also added some of the frangipani flowers that I’d picked up at Iluh’s place. The pieces looked beautiful against the dark blue of the sky and sea.
As I was working, several people, including the guys and gals at Blue Star Bungalows, came to see what I was up to, and posed in the background, the light colours illuminating their faces and hands in combinations of red, blue, purple and green. On the second evening, things got a bit hysterical, as Lole and Eka and others took turns posing as Count Dracula, with coral sticks as fangs, cackling and laughing in the night.
The following day, I put together a second set of mandalas, this time using some of the materials gathered from the beachside cemetery which Barb showed us. There we found lots of dried offering baskets and quite a few more elaborate bamboo structures, all of which were used in burial services and left behind to disintegrate in the elements.
One of these mandalas includes part of a coconut tree, the part that holds the coconuts to the tree itself. It looks quite a bit like an asymmetrical tower, and is vaguely reminiscent of a Balinese cremation tower, the Wadah.
Within this setting, illuminated at night with small LED lights, myself, my partner, and several local community members joined in three public performance pieces invoking the spirits of the dead. Such performances are somewhat transgressive within a Balinese society that believes in witchcraft and the dark powers. These pieces were sites of intense interest to the Jemeluk community of fishers and subsistence farmers, none of whom had ever been witness to or participant in anything like it.