How did your photography story begin?
I have been interested in photography since I was 9 years old and my parents took me on my first overseas holiday to Australia. I took my very first photos on that trip and the passion has been with me every since.
How is your Kalimantan and Bali story begin?
I first visited these two Islands in 2001, and fell in love with the people, Islands and cultures immediately. Since then I have visited countless times and settled to live in Bali in 2011.
Why did you choose Borneo (Kalimantan) and Bali ?
Two very different Islands and cultures, but in all my travels I felt a strong affinity which comes from a deep place inside, hard to explain in logical terms as I have visited many incredible places on this planet but nowhere stirs my soul quite like Kalimantan and Bali.
How is Dayak people and culture?
The Dayak people are incredibly gifted, intelligent, skillful, wonderful dancers and have this amazing ability to overcome challenges. I find them very honest, trusting people and extremely hospitable and proud of their culture, however suffering a bit from lack of confidence and belief in themselves, I think the culture is at a crossroads in some ways, especially in the cities, as they lose touch with their forests. But in the villages in some areas like North and West Kalimantan the culture is very much alive.
What is distinction between Dayak and Bali culture?
I think the Bali culture is very tied to their Hindu religion; the Dayak culture is very tied to the land and the ancestral spirits. Dayak culture has experienced very little influence from tourism, as there hardly is any, so that is one big difference also. But there are aspects of Dayak culture such as the Kaharingan animist faith that has many similarities with Balinese culture.
How do you link these 2 different cultures?
I bring indigenous people together through music, dance and art. In May at Arma we had a wonderful night of story telling involving Dayak, Balinese and Native Americans. Plans are to have a much bigger three day event next year in May. I am also involved in a project to film the wisdom keepers of the Dayak and Balinese in July this year, and help communicate this knowledge to a global audience.
What is your biggest hope for Dayak people?
That they can find a way to protect their forests and land, and also their culture as these are very much connected. The hope is through education and bringing back the lost connection between the older generation and the young via cultural schools. Also, I have a program teaching kids in villages traditional Dayak dance and music, which is expanding into more and more places.
I heard you have a new cultural exchange program based around food starting here in Bali ?
Yes, that is called Ubud Village Plate (www.ubudvillageplate.com), which we are very excited about as it connects visitors to Ubud to local Balinese families by providing meals in their homes. The visitors can also go on a market tour and help prepare the meal with the host family. The majority of the money goes direct to the family and also supports great education programs in Bali and Borneo. This can be booked through Taksu Photo Gallery.
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