The Real Bali … and Arthur Fleischmann …

A real pleasure to spend some time in a beautiful barely untouched part of Bali, far away (well, about an hour and a half) from ‘tourist central’.

The Sidemen Valley adjacent to the village of the same name in East Bali is akin to stepping back several decades to earlier times when Bali was an unmarred spiritual paradise. Rice paddies are liberally strewn through the lush fertile valley dominated at the end by views of dramatic volcanic Gunung Agung. It’s bloody gorgeous …

I recently became aware of the impressive Balinese 1930’s photography work of Slovak born photographer/sculptor Arthur Fleischmann. Whilst at Sidemen I made this atmospheric image … “Homage to Arthur Fleischmann – Diah” (top below) … as a tribute and an attempt to echo Fleischmann’s Balinese work of that era.

Fleischmann arrived in Bali by boat in 1937 and set about documenting Balinese life. In particular he turned his camera to what he saw as the everyday heroics of Balinese women in agrarian life and at harvest … “their labour under the heat of a searing sun celebrated and immortalised”. Three of Arthurs many images can be found bottom below.

His Balinese photography collection is best found in the large book “Bali in the 1930’s” (if you can find it!)

The outbreak of WWII led to his departure from Bali to a new life in Sydney where he become a member of Australia’s Merioola artist commune. In 1949 he left for London where he lived the rest of his life till his death in 1990 at the age of 94. His last sculptural work … “Tribute to the Discovery of DNA” … stands in the NSW State Library, Sydney.

I am very grateful for the help of loverly local talent Diah Antari, my driver Suyasa and the rest of the so helpful staff at the beautiful Wapa di Ume hotel in the Sidemen Valley … so very much appreciated !

(The other real bonus being in Bali again … the chance to once again stay at my very ‘favouritist’ hotel … the sublime Tandjung Sari at Sanur. Owned by the Wawo-Runtu family since it’s beginnings in 1962, Tandjung Sari is a peaceful oasis on the Sanur waterfront … a place that fosters Balinese arts and lifestyle above all else. Once a haven for rock stars and royalty it has matured with grace over the decades. Nothing much has changed … and nor does it need to … since my first of many visits over twenty years ago.)

Image “Homage to Arthur Fleischmann – Diah” (top) © Brian Cassey, Images x 3 (bottom) © Arthur Fleischmann

"Homage to Arthur Fleischmann" - image © by Brian Cassey - made of Diah Antari in the Sidemen Valley East Bali

The work of Arthur Fleischmann in Bali 1930's - compilation by Brian Cassey

Portraits on a Bus …

The ‘fotostrada’ photojournalist collective – of which I am one member of a total of eleven  – is showing a group exhibition entitled “Portraits on a Bus” as part of the “2012 Head On Photo Festival” .

The exhibition runs at the Global Gallery, Paddington, Sydney from Tuesday, 29th May to Sunday 3rd June with the grand opening eve on Wednesday 30th May from 6pm. All are welcome to attend.

Here’s the exhibit description from the Head On Festival program and web site …

“The bus is ubiquitous. Every country on the planet has some form of bus transportation.

From cramped roof top rides on dishevelled buses in India … to tiny ‘bemos’ in Indonesia, mundane mass transport in Hong Kong, luxury express buses in Australia … even a work bus in Antarctica – the ‘fotostrada’ collective team has captured all in images which convey the very essence of the travelling bus passenger and the machines that carry them.”

Several of my images made during visits to India, Hong Kong and Indonesia are featured in the exhibition alongside other great work by colleagues Dean Lewins, Tracey Nearmy, Graham Crouch, Sam Mooy, Renee Nowytarger, Mark ‘Crusty’ Baker and Melanie Russell.

I’ve put together my own personal extended version of “Portraits on a Bus” from all my images that made the short list for the exhibition collection … and this essay has been added to my personal web site at

Posted below is a small selection of my “Portraits on a Bus” images.

Look forward to seeing you at the exhibition …

Images © Brian Cassey – from Hong Kong, Rajasthan India and Sukawati Bali Indonesia.