Subak With Art Festival

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Subak with Art Festival is an environmental art project celebrating the Subak in Bali, Indonesia. The festival’s music, dance, drawing, painting, video, installations and story telling will be the culmination of 250 young Balinese children, Indonesian and Australia artists collaborating to raise the awareness of the Subak through the arts and education. Artists are working with young children, youth and their communities. The festival is happening at the beautiful Subak Museum in Tabanan, Bali, set in the middle of the rice paddies of a working Subak.


What is Subak?

The Subak rice-growing collectives of Bali are a unique cultural icon. They are one of the very few traditional, communally owned water management systems in the world. On the waiting list for world heritage status, the Subak are considered one of Bali’s greatest treasures. However, they are increasingly under threat from social, political and environmental events.


What’s Happening?

On 14 January 2012, performances, sculpture, drawing, new media, painting and installations by Australian and Indonesian Artists will be presented in the Museum, in its grounds, and rice paddies to celebrate and honour the Subak. Artists will also work with the children’s drawings and the coconuts bowls, which have been handcrafted by 210 young Balinese children, to collaboratively create a stunning art installation. Art works will be on display till 28 January, 2012 in the Museum.

Artist, I Gede Made Surya Darma and the children are developing a spectacular opening ceremony using traditional percussion instruments and dance. This ceremony will call the people of Bali to the festival to celebrate the Subak. The children’s hopes are high to becoming the stars of the Festival. The Governor of Tabanan endorses and will open the Festival. Visitors will be invited to take part in drawing, water games, music and storytelling events.

A selection of artwork from the festival will travel to the New England Regional Art Museum, Armidale, NSW, Australia for a special exhibition and schools project in March and April 2012.


The Idea 

The idea for our project came during a three-month artist in residence that Margaret and Christine undertook in Bali at the end of 2010. Our own studio work focused on various aspects of the Subak. As we researched and explored the Subak we realised we needed to take our art out of the studio and into the community. As we worked with the Subak Museum, local children, schools, communities and other Balinese artists the idea of creating a festival to champion this unique and beautiful irrigation system grew. Artists engaged 210 young children in a multidimensional art project that has encouraged dialogue and reflection around a social, political and environmental concern that is of great interest and significance for the Balinese. Most of the children participating are from the Bali School Kids project. These children are only able to attend school through sponsorship ( and rarely travel outside their own village. For these children it will be an experience of a lifetime. Our gratitude goes to Rotary Denpasar and their young leaders in training for facilitating this.

We believe in the power of art to facilitate "trans-actions" between people, issues and places. The arts are an easily accessible and powerful vehicle for engaging with the ideas, processes, practices and rituals that surround rice growing. We believe young children have the right to access and be a part of arts and culture. We believe we have created a significant event that facilitates all of this and that also functions as a cultural exchange that will strengthen ties between Australia and Bali through contemporary art.

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Subak with Art Festival web site:



Who we are

Project leaders:

Dr Margaret Brooks is a Senior Lecturer in the Arts in Early Childhood Education at the University of New England, Armidale, NSW, Australia. Margaret teaches the Creative Arts, researches how drawing can assist young children’s learning and is a practicing artist. She has undertaken research with young children and the arts in a number of countries including Indonesia, Bhutan, Korea, China and Canada.


Christine McMillan is a New South Wales, Australian artist and arts educator, project manager and she is involved in community arts projects.  Christine has exhibited in solo shows in regional art galleries in Australia, and participated in artist in residences in Australia, France and Indonesia.  She has developed and delivered arts education programs for the National Gallery of Australia, regional galleries and museums in Australia and the Subak Museum in Indonesia.  Her work in hospitals and the health sector has seen her develop and manage programs with community groups, schools, hospital clients, staff and volunteers.


I Gede Made Surya Darma, is an Internationally recognised Indonesian artist. He has worked collaboratively with other artists and communities to raise awareness about environmental issues. He participated in artist in residences in Indonesia, Japan and Germany and performances in Malaysia, Indonesia, Germany and the Philippines. He lives in the village of Sengenan, Penebel, in the heart of the traditional rice growing area of Bali. He proposes to focus his work on the Hindu concepts of Tri Hita Karana that is central to the organization of the Subak. He is also working with the 210 children to create an opening performance.


Particpating artists:

I Gede Made Surya Darma (Bali)

Man Putra Ardana (Bali)

Made Ngurah Sadnyana (Bali)

Christine McMillan (Australia)

Margaret Brooks (Australia)

Adrian Symes (Australia)

Support team:

I Gede Putu Setiawanhelps us document the project and provides invaluable resources management.

Rotary Denpasar supports the project by facilitating the participation of 210 young children from their Bali School Kids Project

Rotary youth partners in Services (50 volunteers); The Interact club of Denta-Sobangan and SIAC-Singaraja volunteer their services to assist the small groups of children in their art activities.

Location of the Venues:

The Subak Museum, Tabanan, Bali, Indonesia will host the Subak with Art Festival.

The New England Regional Art Museum, Armidale, NSW, Australia will host the children’s installation and selected work from the artists.

on 13th Dec 2011 at 12:00am. The payment portal is closed now.
A$25 +Appear as a supporter on the credits of the ‘Subak with Art Festival’ DVD by Adrian Symes. Appear as a supporter on the festival wikispaces. Plus all of the above.
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A$50 +Receive one copy of the ‘Subak with Art Festival’ DVD. Plus all of the above.
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A$100 +Receive one palm leaf Tipat. Appear as a supporter on the art work cover of the ‘Subak with Art Festival’ DVD. Plus all of the above.
5 Chosen | 25 AvailableEst. delivery is Invalid date
A$200 +Receive a small altered lino print ‘Tipat series’ by Christine McMillan. Plus all of the above.
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A$500 +Receive an original charcoal drawing (30 x 30cm) from the installation by Margaret Brooks. Plus all of the above.
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