My good friends Paul Blais and Hillary Kane published a podcast interview this month about Hillary's work at Gaya Ceramics in Bali, Indonesia. Paul is a potter and the founder and host of The Potters Cast which just celebrated its 600th podcast milestone!
Hillary is a founder and director of the Gaya Ceramic Arts Center in Ubud, Bali. Listening to Hillary talk about Gaya and Bali got me reminiscing about my trip to Bali where Hilary and I taught a 2 week workshop called Brushstrokes and Fire: Toolmaking and Anagama Firing.
I would go back to Gaya Ceramics Arts Center in a heartbeat!
I'm normally an early riser, so I loved getting up when the chickens announced the coming sunrise. I'd walk to the Arts Center, stopping in the marketplace on the way for fun food and unusual (to me) banana varieties for breakfast.
I was there to show the participants how I make brushes, tools and pots. And that I did. (BTW, a shout out to Sally May Mills for most of the photos of me at Gaya. Sally is a potter, art teacher and photographer from Western Australia who served as a resident teaching assistant for the Bali workshop.)
But much as I brought to Bali, I gained so much more while I was there.
I have been to Hawaii, so I was prepared for the open air indoor/outdoor spaces in Bali.
a home in Ubud, Bali with roller blinds for rain and privacy
an open air bathroom at De Munut Resort in Ubud
But there the similarity ended. It was wonderfully obvious I was no longer in the US of A.
tableside scooter parking
Scooters are the preferred motor vehicle. They are everywhere and they take the right of way. It was crazy how they managed to avoid pedestrians, stray dogs and even each other. I was also surprised to discover one of Ubud's unique filling stations.
sidewalk scooter fueling station
It looked like they were selling moonshine in reusable bottles from a handmade wooden stand. Note the funnel in the crate.
Many of the roads were scooter sized, too. Here are two photos of walkways I took around Ubud. I took these photos in a few rare traffic free moments.
This second photo is a "road" that actually shows up in google maps! It crosses sunken rice paddies. Did I mention that scooters have the right of way? I could look over the edge and see where people had jumped down off the road into the paddy.
The carvings and architectural embellishments surrounded me with a challenge to think new ways about texture.
Ceiling of the dining area at Gaya Ceramic Arts Center, Bali
When Hillary spoke in the podcast about having a beautifully joined building that could be taken apart and moved when the land lease is up, this is what she's referring to!
Taking a walk around Bali is so stimulating.
Ubud bird carving
Lotus garden at the Monkey Forest Temple, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
(stock photo by Mariamichelle needpix.com - this photo shows more detail than my own photo I took at sunrise so it was more of a dark silhouette)
The unusual plants in Bali excited my perception of 3D form.
In her interview Hillary talks about mindfulness. I saw that in how she loaded the kiln.
stacking to create silica flashes in the kiln
Hillary Kane loads the Gaya anagama
Mindfulness is a strong part of the culture in Bali. You could see it in how people go about doing even simple things. It creates an aesthetic that values that which it affects.
I was impressed by the attractive and environmentally friendly displays. (I was even more impressed by the food.)
Things tended to be fresher (though less refrigerated) than what I'm used to in the US.
The best part about my time spent in Bali was the friendliness of the people.
First and foremost, Hillary Kane is the best hostess and coordinator ever. The participants were so friendly and engaged. The two weeks flew by in a flash!
From the cab driver to the beach grillers to the artisans and vendors and all the rest of the Balinese people, the island was filled with friendly faces.
I could go on and on about the bamboo and critters and food and how incredible it was to visit the production side of Gaya. But I hope this is enough to convince several people to take a look at what is happening at Gaya, choose a workshop and book a trip to Bali!