Made Wijaya (né Michael White, BSc(Arch)'75) was a larger-than-life legend going back to the middle of the 1970s. He had already acquired fame at the University of Sydney by the early 70s for running a warung or food stall while still a student studying architecture. To top that off, he built a Japanese garden in a Glebe squat, and then asked the Japanese consul to open it.
His wicked sense of humour was what often made the deepest impression on people. But beneath that public layer was a profound love of Balinese culture which he worked tirelessly to document and preserve. Although he was a convert to Balinese Hinduism, he also had a deep appreciation of Islam, and of all aspects of Indonesian spiritualism. It was this that drove his interest and tireless research on the medieval kingdom of Majapahit, the kingdom which had shaped Indonesia's cultural foundations. He used his unique design skills to analyse first the architectural traditions of Bali, and then the ancient culture of Majapahit, the eastern Javanese based empire that ruled much of present-day Indonesia in the middle ages.
Made had many gifts. He was certainly more than David Bowie's gardener (although Bowie's house in Mustique was one of many landscape monuments to his talent around the world, from Florida to the Taj hotels in India). He spoke Balinese with a fluency that no foreigner could match (and perhaps even a few Balinese had trouble topping his double entendres). He had an immense talent for all things visual, from photography to design and architecture.
He leaves a great legacy of cultural knowledge, and we at the University of Sydney will be working to fulfill his expressed wish of preserving his extensive and unique cultural archive. His collection of architectural photographs will also be preserved at the Institute for Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore, which is working to digitise it.
Professor Adrian Vickers FAHA
University of Sydney Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
His wicked sense of humour was what often made the deepest impression on people. But beneath that public layer was a profound love of Balinese culture which he worked tirelessly to document and preserve.
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