Posts Tagged ‘Thailand’

Shona writing her blog outside on the balcony of her hut

We left Australia two days ago.  Today we are sitting on the verandah of a little bamboo hut, wind sifting through the leaves of the giant banyan tree in whose elegant web of roots we nestle.  The waves are lapping insistently on the sand and children are running and laughing, in the distance some awful tune is playing from gigantic speakers at a local children’s fun sports day on the beach.  We are on Koh Pu, an island off southern Thailand, staying at Luboa Hut for one precious week.

In the roots of the Banyan tree

Australia is huge.  We had the good fortune to take a day flight whose path took us over the Simpson desert and Cooper Pedy, Uluru and the Olgas and on through to Derby before the red earth bled into the turquoise waters of the Timor Sea.  Peering down onto this great lonely desert we were reminded of aboriginal paintings, paintings like maps defining water holes and stretches of land in varying red and ochre, of the great salt lakes, their white fat fingers stretching greedily, around them circles of ghostly white rising, of the lines of rivers dotted with trees and their tributaries and distributaries fanning in and out, full of water and glistening in the sun, life veins in this country now in wet season.

Hills of Durham, Rover Country by Rover Thomas (Art Gallery, NSW)

Rover Thomas in the dust under a boab tree in the Kimberlies.  I have an image of him there in his own quiet, earthy space, painting his land, a little away from the rest of the community, but part of them all nonetheless, every so often getting up to go walk-about, feeling the land, being the land, honouring the waterholes and their great spirits, throwing a stone in the water when he arrives to let them know he had arrived and washing his hands when he leaves so not to take their spirits with him.  His paintings, the land, beautiful empty canvases of burnt siena and ochre, defined and pure, is-ness, being.

Ngarin Janu Country by Rover Thomas (Art Gallery NSW)

Artists need to be a little separate from their communities.  They need to stand outside and look in, perceiving the inner-ness of their people, breaking the ground that needs to be broken, not for fashion’s sake, but because things are old and stale and life needs to be looked at anew.  The artist as a commodity.  These are todays trends.  Artists engaged in making themselves a public entity, marketing and selling out.  Feeding the galleries and the public what they want.  Their spiritual role broken.  They could be designers in any field where once they stood alone, a store house of ideas for all the design fields, now just a celebrity, a fashion icon, here and gone in a minute, no longer timeless.

The dilemma of the artist.  Here we are, on this little island in the Andaman Sea, a space between lives, a space to think about ourselves and our work.  Nothing to do for a week.  We walk on the sand and swim in the sea, all day.  We wonder at the emptiness of our thoughts.  Nothing to complain about but a hard bed.  We wake in the morning a bit cricked.  But then we eat a luscious breakfast reclining on pillows at a low table and then we walk along the sandy bay dipping in the water and lying in the hot sand and walking and dipping in again.  Any attempt at serious talk leaves the other looking dazed.  Maybe it just has to be till we have emptied out the old and ready soon for the new.

Koh Pu
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Sunset Thailand
Sunset at Koh Pu

2011 and we have been offered a three month artist residency with a school in HK and Beijing.  Bagni di Lucca is cold and damp and any winter anywhere can get long and dreary.

Arriving in our taxi

So en-route to HK we have four weeks to indulge ourselves on a Thai island.  Last year we spent five days on an island called Koh Pu.  It was very rustic, monkeys pounding over the roofs of the bungalows in the mornings, hard beds, dogs yowling in chorus spontaneously through the nights.  But somehow it all relaxed us, the good food and juices, the warm turqoise waters, the banyan trees and above all a resident masseur who was a healer.

Our masseur Kun Moi
Our masseur Kun Moi

We decided to go back to this same place because of the masseur as Mike had many accumulated back, shoulder and leg problems due to a car accident years ago. And, oddly, I manifested my own set of problems, long buried, but to make themselves known under her probing fingers.  The results only a week and a half after arriving here is that Michael is pain free for the first time in years and I have new slender legs that had been accumulating blockages and stiffness, to the extent that plane travel was unbearable.  I was also sleepless for the previous week and this, it turns out, is related to the blockages in the legs which was exacerbated by the swelling on the plane trips.  So, after a constant regime of much patient and sometimes painful unravelling, we are both feeling rejuvenated.

Sollai - Captain of the gang

Yesterday we met up with Sollai, who is having a holiday also, before he starts a job teaching English in Jakarta.  He is staying on the same island but his part of the island, south, is called Koh Jum.  His bungalows at Bodang Resort, are very rustic and hippy.  He has a little bamboo hut right on the beach.  His many friends, young and old come to visit him on his verandah, strewn with hammocks and lounges, chilling out in this very simple world with nothing to do but watch the turn of the sea and the setting sun.  Yesterday he arranged a small boat trip for 10 of us to another beach, isolated, perfect and idyllic, where a small bar had been set up.  The bar people had caught a ton of seafood; barracuda, squid, and crabs and on this we feasted, lounging on a low bamboo platform in the sand.  It was simple and wonderful and in the company of people who were interesting and eccentric and above all, super relaxed.  Lovely to know people like this in holiday mode, stripped back, nothing to prove.

Our hut
Our Beach

Now we are sitting on our verandah in our garden paradise, the waves lapping gently on the shore in front of us.  We have collected curious finds on the beach and drawn them, new language for our art.  We are gently at peace, and are looking at this new crossroad in our life as our last child is no longer a child but embracing his own journey.  Both the boys on their way now.  So before us, life offers an abundant basket full of endless possibilities and we have nothing to distract us from having a look inside.

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