He likes to call himself the ‘cultural ambassador of Bali’. But for Michael White, also known as Made Wijaya, designing gardens is what he loves doing most.
Made (the name having being given to him by a Balinese priest which, in Bali, means ‘middle’) was a journalist working with the Bali Post. Back in the 60s, he recalls, he was an artist searching for opportunity to release his creative longings.
A great soccer fan, Made is also an architect, a sculptor, a painter, an artist who loves to draw and a photographer. He has contributed illuminating texts to books such as At Home in Bali, Tropical Garden Design, The Encyclopaedia of Balinese Architecture and Balinese Architecture- Towards an Architecture.
His special interests lie in designing traditional Oriental and lush, green Indian gardens. He says he loves India as it reminds him a lot of the Balinese culture and religion. Through most of his work he reflects the aesthetic value of Bali. Concentrated in Singapore, Made’s remarkable creations can be seen at private houses in Calcutta, The Park Hotel in New Delhi, at the Leela Kempinsky, Mumbai and in Chennai.
We asked what he liked best about the Balinese people and he replied, " Oh, the Balinese are splendid artisans". In his writing, he always talks about how the Balinese are such great workers and craftsmen, always in pursuit of natural beauty. Balinese people represent the spirit of ‘ngayah’- a noble pursuit of beauty, which Made strives to achieve and reflect through his work. He found Bali to be an embodiment of hippie culture as it seemed to be at one with nature- and the strong Hindu beliefs and lifestyles of the island people fascinated him. He has lived on and off the island for 30 years, sometimes visiting his home country Australia whenever he gets a chance.
Fun-loving and humorous, it isn’t surprising then why the people of Bali call him ‘Wijaya’ (winner). Life, for Made, is now a garden of sweet smells and smiles and he hopes to keep it that way, by putting his heart, and of course, his head to whatever he does.