Bali Belulai

Written by Zena Khan

Bali Belulai is a wooden sculpture by emerging young sculptor Anniketyni Madian, who is quickly gaining recognition for her intricately worked wooden wall sculptures. Deriving inspiration from the Pua Kumbu textiles of her native Sarawak, Anniketyni combines culture with a modern graphic aesthetic to create pieces that resonate with a contemporary audience.

Pua Kumbu is a sacred ceremonial cloth from Sarawak. While the term Pua Kumbu directly translates into ‘a grand blanket’, it is hardly ever used as a blanket but instead reserved for lifecycle rituals, special events and spiritual encounters. Iban history and mythology are full of references to textiles being used as sacred objects, thus contextualizing the role of Pua Kumbu as a central artifact to the cultures of indigenous Malaysia. Weaving these colourful textiles is seen as a deeply spiritual and socio religious activity, always performed by women. Iban society sets specific gender roles and the act of weaving establishes a woman’s position within social hierarchies. A comparison can be made between the weaving of Pua Kumbu and Anniketyni’s inspired wooden wall sculptures. Using the patterns of Pua Kumbu to present a contemporary aesthetic, Anniketyni establishes her position as an emerging sculptor of interest from the next generation of artists.

Bali Belulai is composed from sharp slim lines encased in a circle. While there is a distinctly Sarawakian flavor to the piece, modern elements such as the open ended composition of the minutely detailed wooden slices juxtaposed against smooth, clean wood pepper Bali Belulai with an air of currency. Despite the static nature of wall sculpture, Anniketyni draws inspiration for her work from kinetic artists such as Theo Jansen, architects and engineers. The artist consistently works on ways to incorporate the neat technicality of construction into her creative process; this begins with delightfully fluid drawings. Planning is key to the success of each sculpture and these drawings act as plans from which the two-dimensional Pua Kumbu patterns can be shaped into their three-dimensional forms. The wooden slices have edges, shapes, sides and depth cut into them, before being fit neatly together so as to create the smooth, seamless flow of Bali Belulai. By fabricating the entire sculpture herself, Anniketyni establishes a rapport between herself, the sculpture and her audience through the control of her idea and its subsequent execution.
By relating her heritage with a symbol that is highly traditional both visually and conceptually, Anniketyni cleverly makes her aesthetic presentation in a manner that fits in with the currency of the developing society she observes surrounding her. Bali Belulai is presented at an interesting time in her career, as Anniketyni is about to participate in the Rimbun Dahan Residency 2014. Given Anniketyni’s dedication to her craft and wonderful ability to narrate heritage and traditions in the language of a new generation, she aims to be an exciting new talent within the genre of sculpture in Malaysia.


Title: Bali Belulai

Artist: Anniketyni Madian

Size: 176 cm in diameter

Medium: Mix of hard & thick wood

Year: 2014


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