On art, a unique experience of collective human suffering and the all-important kindness.


Today we finally had the opportunity to frame and mount this divine portrait on our loungeroom wall (onya Steve!) This painting is by Balinese artist Wayan Sadhu. Seeing it up on the wall is a truly bittersweet moment. While I’m in love with the charismatic, creative and thoughtful vision in the painting; I feel that the subject is looking uncertainly at her future in this world. In particular, I get the impression she is thinking of, and feels for, her brothers and sisters in developing nations, including entrepreneurs like her painter master.

In these uncertain times, our Balinese neighbours are without access to welfare, free healthcare, their usual incomes, or any level of certainty whatsoever. In Indonesia, safety nets outside of family are non-existent. The woman in the painting seems to be, as I am, acutely aware that Wayan’s life craft may never again be a viable option to support his family. 
Wayan is a talented professional artist, who has a shop in Tanah Lot in Bali. Wayan’s shop has been closed since March 22 due to the COVID19 pandemic. As an artist catering to the tourist trade, Wayan goes above and beyond to create pieces including originals, relics, replicas and abstracts for willing customers who encounter his shop on The Island of the Gods. On a personal note, he is also a delight to know.

Wayan creates his paintings with ‘mulia’ or an offering of love from the heart so that weary travellers may take home their own unique slice of paradise. Unfortunately, Wayan’s story is not necessarily unique in 2020. All over the globe artists, creative, writers and workers as well as entrepreneurs are finding themselves in a similar predicament. Their clientele disappears, their usual sources of income dry up and they are left to pick up the pieces. 

The world is in complete and utter chaos. People are dying. People are divided. People are losing everything they own as well as people they love. In the midst of the Covid chaos Wayan reached out to me, a one-time customer and visitor to his shop, to check on my welfare, after hearing reports from Down Under. 

To be honest, I was pretty humbled by that. His business, craft and livelihood are in suspension, and the usually busy tourist island is gripped by despair. Despite this, Wayan wanted to be assured that I was holding up ok in a foreign land. A land, unlike his, with first class healthcare, a welfare system, and a safety net. 

This is why it’s not ok to boycott businesses based merely on their country of origin. For example, small business owners in China or anywhere else, whatever you might think of their governments. These are people with talents, perseverance, families and stories. They too have beating hearts, and generous souls rich in spirit. It makes me blush that neoconservative Australians are using the Covid19 agenda to push “Aussie” made products which loosely translates “Shop at Harvey Norman”. Because unless you are white, sixth generation Australian with a quintessential surname you’re cut out.

In January, when I chose my painting while on vaction in Bali, Australia was in the grips of the bushfire crisis. Our land and wildlife scorching and ablaze. During that time, small business owners in Indonesia, struggling to make bank, were donating to our country fire authorities and wildlife funds. 

At the exact same time mainstream media were urging people to cancel trips to Bali, which was so quiet, to focus on rebuilding Aussie tourism. Something about the “choose one or the other” – us versus them – mentality  made me ashamed. We are all people. Some of us, happen to be more fortunate than others.

I understand the current push to buy locally made products direct from sources right now. But what I don’t understand is the nationalistic patriotism of shopping exclusively under “Aussie” flags that don’t even bear in mind that we once were an extremely proud multicultural nation which boasts “boundless plains to share” as part of its national anthem. But it doesn’t bear in mind other people around the globe with less access to resources than us, and how they might fair in light of the world’s COVID19 plight. 

Wayan, like so many of our neighbours in nearby Bali, and indeed Asia wide, has lost his only source of income. It remains to be seen whether he will ever be able to re-establish his shop. The streets of Bali are deserted. The photos and videos emerging are eerie like Heaven and Hell coexisting in the same place and time. 

For those of us who still have a source of income, a roof over our heads, and a fridge filled with food, I’m sure we can be afford to be a bit more generous in spirit than deliberately cutting out people like Wayan because they are not “Aussie.” That’s deliberately and strategically creating a society of haves vs have nots, and it’s based on prejudice. We must virtually bridge the economic gap and divide. 

The fact that we are lacking resources gives greater weight to this argument. After all, it could so easily be us. We particularly need to support neighbours in Asia who have a proven track record in reciprocating with in-kind support in our own moments of sheer desperation. We actually need each other now more than ever. 

If anyone is in the market for a beautiful piece of art to brighten their isolation space, consider helping Wayan to help his family and community at the same time. Support his work and help Wayan rebuild his business and his life. Do it for this small business owner in Bali. Please, do it for me, and do it for yourself. It is such small acts of kindness and generosity of spirit that will undoubtedly make the road ahead easier, for everyone. Imagine if we all did. 

Wayan Sadhu’s contact details are below. While adapting to the new world in any way possible he is happy to post customer orders or originals abroad. He just needs a chance to weave his magic again. Please feel call him for pictures and a quote.   

Email : bulan_bali_artshop@yahoo.com

WhatsApp : +628123688141



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