Lorne Blair in Bali
 
Today, 6th of June 2015, it is exactly 20 years ago that the wonderful and always joyous Lorne Blair unexpectedly died just 3 weeks before his 50th birthday. I feel very fortunate to have spent the last years with him and to have given him a daughter with whom he had only very short time to love. This page I have made in honour of him, feeling I fall short of the tremendous legacy he left to this world with his documentary series 'Into the Ring of Fire' in which he filmed and photographed peoples that have since become endangered in their habitat and cultures. Even sometimes ceased to exist as how they were documented at that time, only 40 years ago.

Lorne Blair lived in Pengosekan where we met. I had been living for seven years on the beach in Kuta when I moved inland to Pengosekan, a small village south of Ubud in the kingdom of Gianyar in Bali. I stayed in a small homestay named Guci Guest Houses.

My friend John DeConey had told me to visit his friend Lorne Blair. When I did, even though I came 'rond the house unxpectedly, Lorne made me feel as if he'd been waiting for my visit. He said he needed me to see his new project. He was an older man, English, intelligent and witty with a British sense of humor and a very eccentric personality. He made everybody always feel special.

His project was a teak house to be built from several traditional houses that he had bought in Java and were now lying in a great pile of -what seemed like- a stack of burning wood. Lorne had studied building techniques from books on traditional buildings in Malaysia and Borneo. He sought advice from architects and never shied the knowledge of the crafstmen who worked for him. He showed me the drawings he had made and needed my small hands to make a model, he said. I was intrigued by his project and it had always been my dream to build a house so I joined with great enthusiasm.

The house featured unnecessary complicated items like a pentagon shaped look-out bedroom at the very top of the house open to all five sides. And a luxury tray-lift from the kitchen to this tiny master bedroom.
The sealed air-conditioned/dehumidified editing studio was in sealed air connection with book cases in the library on another floor so the books would not mould in the humid climate. Secret panels hid his stereo equipment and his liquor stack.

But the intricate ornamented wooden beams of the traditional Javanese Joglo constructions hid the even more complicated construction of the building. Where the staircase in the middle of the house led to the several rooms by a few steps each time felt completely natural, in reality the house was a puzzle of rooms above each other while interlocking everywhere.

Lorne Blair was, perhaps, as complicated and ingenious as the house he built, yet he felt as easy going and natural as if you were longtime friends. He did not expect anyone to understand his meticulous drawings, but left everybody in awe for the result.

Then he assumed me fit to be a production assistant to his film 'Cycles of the Soul' in 1992.

We became lovers and had daughter, in 1993. The photograph above was taken on his daughter's 2nd birthday, 3 weeks before Lorne died.

At the time of his death he was working on a travel guide on Bali, by Editions Didier Millet. From his extensive library with all books on Bali, from Alfred Russel Wallace to old Dutch recounts of the invasion and 'puputan' in Bali in 1906, he asked me to translate. Since I am Dutch, I was able to provide him with this material derived from formerly untranslated sources.

Perhaps only after Lorne died, I realized his fame throughout the world. He had always been friendly to anyone who took the trouble to find him. So at the time it just felt natural that all these interesting guests would visit our home. But among them there were ministers of Indonesia, Mick Jagger, David Bowie. Old friends of his from the time he was living in London. Ringo Starr had been one of the investors to the film series 'Into the Ring of Fire'. In retrospect, I guess it was quite exceptional.

Lorne refused to get a telephone, for he was afraid life would get too busy. He liked to read a book and his siŽsta after lunch, drank lots of coffee throughout the day and smoked heavily until he decided to stop shortly after our daughter was born.

He died in hospital, two days after having broken his leg by falling in a hole on the sideway in Legian. Possibly it was emboli or else, a heart attack. We never found out the details. But I never asked. He was gone and would never return.

Part of the documented travels Lorne undertook with his older brother Lawrence, with whom he had a troublesome relationship. It seems not my position to elaborate on that, and besides, I don't know the details. All I know it that after Lorne's death our daughter Xenia was not recognized as his daughter so Lawrence took the entire inheritance including residual income from the movies that continued for many years after.

Other film makers and artists worked with Lorne, like film maker John Darling in 'Lempad of Bali' and with his best friend and photographer Rio Helmi with whom he made 'River of Gems', a travel log about a journey through Borneo.

This is a photograph of Lorne Blair's daughter Xenia(16). She is 22 years old now.

Anyone who would like to make a contribution to this page, by sending photographs, personal stories about Lorne, is requested to mail this to sophia.anastasia@gmail.com

Thank you.

For requests regarding contact details of Lorne's brother Lawrence, please try other resources since I do not keep in touch with him.

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