Have Yourself an Arty Little Christmas

Might seem more than a bit early to talk about Christmas shopping, but some long-range planning is essential when it comes to happier holidays. A super way for Bali expats to give Xmas gifts that will be cherished, used, and enjoyed (and, importantly, not cast off or re-gifted) is to just make a point of shopping some of the smaller retail outlets for finely crafted items. You’ll be supporting local designers, artists, and artisans in a most-needed way!

I am wild about Strange But Cool, a cottage industry of quality clothing and handbags from Singaporean designer Tina Lim Long, whose skilled Indonesian seamstresses repurpose high quality tee shirts (and even parts of plastic bottles). Air conditioned splendor at Jl Danau Poso 111 (look for the sign for her museum of handbags)! Call 0361 4720027; Tue-Sat 11 -7.

Pusaka has opened its doors at Jalan Kubu Manyar 1, Canggu. One treasure I dug up there were semi-precious stone drawer pulls (and I left plenty for you) and all the home décor there is fun. Amazing desk stationery made of recycled tropical wood. 081339671610

Apurva Kempinski Bali the new luxury hotel on the Benoa peninsula has a boutique-cum-gallery with a pop-up concept curated by the hotel’s art director Happy Salma. Stunning selection of Indonesian crafts far beyond the copycat art market dross.

Which brings me to Ubud’s time-honored Threads of Life gallery and boutique of Indonesian fabrics, weaves, and other crafts. Where discerning collectors and the merely curious can find museum-quality as well as more affordable one-of-a-kind items from all over the archipelago. Absolutely one of Bali’s great treasure troves. Jl Kajeng 24, 0361 972187

Get away to Tengganan village near Candidasa.   You’re not going to get more Bali than this; these are the aboriginal Bali Aga, with their own customs and architecture. Resident craftspeople cheerfully open their doors to visitors. Discover strong ata basket weaves here, but in designs not seen elsewhere in Bali. Bonus: can be combined with a snorkeling getaway at nearby resorts.

Pasar-Pasaran in Uma Seminyak is a great place to poke around. Wood rimmed sunglasses, uber-cool delights of all kinds. Jl Kayu Cendana 1.

Cush Cush Gallery is the avant garde art hall for the design and architecture firm CushCush. Their delightful retail corner is Bali’s coolest museum store. Local artists who have shown work in the gallery or who work with children in CushCush’s various programs have produced most of the goods on sale. Gg Rajawali, Teuku Umar, Denpasar. Open most days but call ahead to avoid disappointment. Merlin: 081289152130

Sin & Sun Sewing Syndicate is all about indigo chic, Japanese Boro stitchery, and an Indonesian slant on MUJI sensibility. Their cloth bags are always being updated and are strong and stylish. This creative group also produces delights like Sashiko-stitched Chuck Taylor high top shoes! Find them on facebook, but you can also peruse their items at the MOV store in Kerobokan at Jl Mertasari 53 (just moved from number 99).

Never assume that tourists can’t find the good stuff. Check out the carefully curated housewares at Sarvasati Design Store, located at the swish Padma Legian. Jl Padma 1.

There is now a last-Sunday-each-month market at the Mercure hotel in Sanur. At a superb setting near the beach you’ll find everything from handcrafted food items to footwear to art.

But here’s the Ibu of all crafts fairs. Save November 3 for a visit to the BIWA (Bali International Women’s Association) 45th Anniversary Bazaar at the Lotte Mart on the bypass in Denpasar.

This annual event is a massive day-long fair with food stalls, raffles, and entertainment, but more importantly, countless tables of crafts and unique goods perfectly suited for gifting. Look for Ibu Eka and her handpainted bird motif cloth bags! The BIWA Bazaar is loaded with giftable gems, many of these produced and sold by hardworking yayasans.

The Ubud Writers and Readers Festival, October 23 – 27, again features its Festival Market, which improves every year. Historically, this is excellent one-stop shopping for upcycled goods, high quality bamboo ware, and jewelry. Free daily at the festival hub on Jl Raya Sanggingan.

Got a special art collector on your list? Get out to the Sagilik Saguluk Art Fair, on the Sayan road near Taman Bebek hotel. You will see the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival umbul-umbul banner posted outside the workshop venue, marking the location. October 26 – November 2, from 11 am to 7 pm. Hottest names rising in the contemporary Ubud art scene!

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Did someone say festival? At issue date, the 13th Balinale, Bali International Film Festival, is in full swing! Ends late on 29 September, so get on down there! Program includes vintage surfing footage, horror features, great comedies, state of the art animation, and so much more! Cinemaxx Sidewalk Jimbaran, cinemaxxtheatre.com for tickets and balinale.com for details.


By Renee Melchert Thorpe

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