In 2011, I went to Bali for the first time.
When I arrived on the island, I felt a different type of energy. There were the powerful smells. The light was beautiful in Bali. And the colours: dark green, oranges, yellows and blues.
It was actually my second time in Bali – but the first trip that changed me. I briefly visited in 1993 on a surprise holiday with a boyfriend who was living in Korea. At that time, Ubud was deserted – there were only five hotels. Asia was a mystery to me.
In 2011, I went back to Bali as an artist. I wanted to learn how to be close to nature. I was a nature-phobic before I went – nature seemed to me too big, too enormous.
We stayed in really simple hotels in the middle of Bali, near Ubud. We walked in the Indonesian forest, full of ancient trees. We meditated there, and swum with dolphins in the sea off northern Bali. We did ‘smile’ yoga at a monastery, where you have to laugh and smile through the class. I felt cleansed.
I wouldn’t recommend Bali for the beaches – although we did find a super beach, Badung Ungasan, that was completely deserted. No. What I would recommend is the rice fields, Mount Agung and the kind, warm and friendly people. And the temples.
When I returned to Hong Kong, I made a sculpture series called ‘rock surprise’. In Bali, each time I saw rocks, I saw faces. Nature is a mirror, and in Bali I learnt how to understand it. I learnt to not judge myself too much and find joy in life. That’s the message of my art now.
Antoinette Rozan is a Hong Kong-based artist. She exhibits at Sin Sin Gallery and Rouge Ephemere in Soho.