Year of Living Differently

In our very own year of living differently, Culture and Art continue on virtual stages. To maintain a high degree of civilization and sanity, I urge readers to keep each other informed of these happenings as you discover them. Again and again, it can be observed scientifically that people do better when surrounded with beauty. Small wonder there are so many expats here and in places like Paris, India, and Mexico.

Now that the last remaining tourist visa holders are leaving by government decree, we may well see the CoVid stats decline and the island return to a true normal. Don’t be tempted to relax about the correct placement of the mask, handwashing and hygiene, crowd avoidance and strict social distancing. At the end of the pandemic, we will want an intact culture and population, and that is exactly how to achieve it.

So my first dose of beauty for you is actually not Balinese, but please check out this treasure trove of stupendous virtual tours of regional neighbor Thailand. Enjoy!

MINIKINO, the great little international festival of film shortsis still going ahead 4-12 September, but it will be online! Keep checking Instagram @minikinoevents for details.

8 August, the online Pandemiexhibition will open. @galerinasional for details.

If you are limiting your beach and excursion time (wise + considerate of remote villages), and still spending time at home, check out some of the art supplies available at Bali Arte Media. You might like to expand your hobby and art activity.

This may just be our year, with all the bizarre challenges and fiery social media responses, to try our hand at journaling.

Bali Arte Media shops are selling copies of the book (Indonesian translation, but totally user-friendly for non-Indonesians) The ABCs of Journaling by Abbey Sy, which is a great ideas book for anyone who wants to make their analog journals a little more vivid. There are plenty of supplies right there in the store, for illustrating, writing and collaging. Jl Imam Bonjol store 0361 485248 or

Junk, collage, or free form journaling has really taken off as a hobby and art form. Men such as the recently deceased, highly eccentric photographer Peter Beard, and Bali’s own Pablo Gentile have created gorgeous journals. Check out and


Sketchbook/journal entries by Pablo Gentile; Photos courtesy of the artist

Lynda Barry, rules-breaking American cartoonist, has turned out a pretty fun sketchbook/journal calledPicture This: The Near-Sighted Monkey Book. There’s also herWhat It Is (I haven’t read that one). If you can get your hands on a copy of these, or her Making Comics, you may well gain a lot of inspiration on exploring your own journal style.

Lynda’s bio:

Go to this ArtNews article to decide if she’s worth your while.

Additionally, she’s on tumblr at

Seminar by Lynda Barry:

Speaking of books, just in case you didn’t hear, the October Ubud Writers and Readers Festival has been postponed indefinitely. Without tourists able to take part, it’s unviable.

BUT all is not lost. There are choice podcasts just sitting online for free listening, from past festivals. Just go to see what’s on offer.

There are plenty to choose from, and it’s a good way to live the festival from home. A personal favorite of mine from last year’s festival is The Role Of The Arts In Cultural Diplomacyin which Janet Steele, Professor of Journalism at George Washington University, interviews experts in an area which will be of interest to artists, art lovers, social economists and activists. And a superb podcast is 2016’s Forgiveness Is A Practice, with Bali’s own writer Ariel Leve and Ubud Now & Then Publisher Rio Helmi in discussion with incarceration researcher and activist Baz Dreisinger and human trafficking survivor Shandra Woworuntu.

I’ll close with a few videos of normal life. This place and its marvelous people are worth protecting. So take those simple, non-invasive steps to combat the spread of CoVid19. Wear a mask properly, limit trips outside your home, work at home when possible, wash your hands frequently and don’t touch your face; apply social distancing while being polite, and avoid all crowds. Get sleep, eat a nutritious diet, and make life easy for others so they are resting up, too. Now, prepare to rehabilitate the reasons we do all this:

(this last one is a mixed bag of tourists and locals, but on balance it’s heartwarming):


By Renee Melchert Thorpe

 Spreading art news? Make comments and suggestions by email:

 Copyright © 2020 MALA Art & Culture

You can read all past articles of MALA Art & Culture at