Vale Terry Stanton
– inventor of Bali’s Bamboo Sofa
"Bali has had its fair share of very talented Australians — Donald Friend, Peter Muller, Kerry Hill and, not to forget, Michael White — but few as garrulous as Terry Stanton, house model for Zamrud Airlines' “Bemo in the Sky” and inventor of the bamboo sofa and Legianspeak."
In the glorious fruit salad days of Kuta-Legian (1970 – 1985) there was a legendary hotel way down the beach in the direction of Tanah Lot called the Kayu Aya (now the Bali Oberoi in what is now Seminyak). It was built by legendary Australian architect Peter Muller (now 82 and living in Sydney, in a maximum security retirement facility, with his ex-wife Woolite heiress Carol Muller) who also did the equally legendary Amandari.
The Kayu Aya was Emerald City for us shoe-string hippies: it had luxury villas for rent at $10/night, an amazing Olympic size turtle-fed swimming pool on a vast beach front terrace and, most importantly, it had Terry Stanton and his Australian actress wife Arna-Maria Winchester holding court — as rogue G.M. and vixen consort.
Stanton had wrangled the job as ‘General Manager’ through guile — his only real talents were drawing, bull-shitting and tying knots, but he was weapons-grade in those three disciplines. When he drew the heavens sang, and the nymphets dropped their dacks because he was a genius.
In 1971 he had famously designed and constructed a dream-home in Yarramalong, outside Sydney, for art dealer Terry Clune, which was a homage to Buckminster Fuller.
His arrival in Bali in 1974 ushered in an era of discovery for us layabouts languoring at Made’s Warung. He inspired all of us to LOOK: we all learned from Stanton’s incredible curiosity and his passion for traditional architecture, women and anything bamboo.
In a few short months he became ‘King of the Pops” (pot-heads) — churning out catalogue after catalogue of amazing bamboo pavilion and construction drawings. During this period he designed the first bamboo sofa, built by Putu Suarsa, still in production to this day, and he also inspired decorator Linda Garland, the future Queen of Bamboo.
Stanton’s old friend, painter Ian Van Wieringen recalls that: “He could talk to anyone on their level. “Humanity at work” he would call it. Chippies, craft people, bushies, doctors, models, total strangers. For everyone he had so much effort and time and love. Effort was LOVE for Stanton.
His talents were endless. He could draw with that left hand what he was describing with his motor mouth — always filled with a kretek cigarette.”
Eventually Stanton rented a house in present-day Jalan Dyanapura (in those days designer Milo’s house was the only home between Legian North and the Kayu Aya) which he called “Kantor Bingung” (Confusion Office).
Artist Davina Stephens has the following recollection of this house:
“In 1974 I was just a ‘grommet’ and one memory that keeps coming to mind of the times was the KANTOR BINGUNG. A tall man surrounded by tall bamboo furniture and tall chairs clean space and he was magnanimous like a ‘power pole’ — always doing, always talking and always giving. Stanton poured out enthusiasm wherever he went. I was mesmerized by him and thought he was the best — I will carry that vessel of enthusiasm with me forever.”
In this, Bali's first expatriate mad-house also he designed the bamboo “lampu Strong-King” for Amir Rabik; the t-shirt “Bemo in the Sky” for Walter Folle (for Zamrud Airlines); and an edible, woven-bamboo, paper panty-shield for Linda Garland an old flame (the term “Legian Lothario” was invented for Stanton).
In 1977 he started Legianspeak with the now iconic utterance “Bagus Baju”, as he fondled his maid’s thinly sheathed breasts.
Sydney-based photographer Juno Gemes remembers that he would be “Swinging wildly between enthusiastic fan, supporter and bitter critic. Stanton held a constant vigil and erudite commentary on all our activities, in wildly changing states of consciousness himself.”
It’s hard to describe the scene at the Kayu Aya under General Manager Terry Stanton: surreal is a word that comes to mind, too easily …….it was more “padded”, as in paddled cell”. The skeleton staff — Seminyak’s finest (serfs of the Seminyak Palace to the man) — hovered around like zombies as the mostly New Age or Drugged-Out clientele played hide and seek in the vast, exquisite grounds.
Stanton was Chief Executive, Motormouth, Repairman General, Party Planner, Barman and Court Jester. It was at one of his Sydney-Seminyak beach parties that the Senangski Group was formed — a loose gaggle of foreign artists and local gentleman ‘bodgies’ that survives to this day.
It was Stanton who slashed through the jungle and discovered — some two kilometres north of the property on the beach — an extra-ordinary Portuguese colonial era bungalow (the Rumah Dolog) where, on an African Queen-like estuary, a Spanish-Pilipino mime lived illegally amongst the crocodiles and mosquitoes. In the near distance, through dense scrub, was a spooky temple which terrified us — great giants had been seen on the beach — called Pura Petitenget.
There were many memorable nights: as the mild-hallucinogenics in the sunset quiche took hold (magic mushrooms were legal in those days) and havoc was wrought with the party’s plan. The most memorable party was the night Stanton ‘went for’ Milan Ivozitch (geologist, painter, junky, presidential suite occupant) who had been caught in Ugandan discussions with the lovely Arna-Maria. The bucolic party scene become “Psycho”, with Stanton hacking through the presidential suite’s thatched roof with a machete while we cowered inside.
Stanton gave this writer his first real job in Bali — translating an Indonesian book on the Bugis Phinisi trading vessels. Stanton’s father was a sea captain and had been to the Antarctic with Mawson, thus he had a fascination for anything nautical.
Stanton was my mentor when I emerged from my Balinese village — after five years in a cocoon — and I soon had a job teaching English to Kayu Aya’s owner Gung Adi, the legendary Seminyak palace prince who dared to diddle Pepsi Cola.
In those days the Kantor Bingung was a madrasah of madness and architectural passion and higher learning (sic).
During this period Arna opened Bali’s first smart boutique — selling silk patio apparel — on the beach in front of the La Taverna hotel in Sanur, which was then run by another adorable rogue, the late Walter Folle, a founding member with painter Ian Van Wieringen and writer Victor Mason of the a Senangski Club. Arna and Terry split up after the birth of their love-child Putu Sugiarta in the back of a bemo on the way to Sanglah Hospital but continued fighting in Sanur and Australia for some time. Arna died last year after a long battle with cancer.
For his post-Bali life (some 25 years) Stanton went from bad to worse: he never really regained a footing.
His funeral at St. David’s in Palm Beach was well attended by many Bali-buffs and a selection of Sydney’s finer artists. “For the last ten years Stanton has slept on some of the finest back verandas and in some of the smartest parks, in Sydney,” a wag noted.
He is survived by his son Putu and grandson Ryder and his sister Ann in the UK
30th May 2010:
The fabulous trance rituals at Pura Pengerebongan Temple, East Denpasar, held every 7 months.