Yes, I know. I’m going to bang on about Wallace. Again. And again. AND AGAIN!
“You should ask Wallace” has been around Wales and the UK and we’ve tentatively touched upon two other of his expedition targets by performing in Singapore and Brazil.
Indonesia was calling. His greatest adventure. His calling card to recognition from the academic elite and privileged ‘crachach’.
And thanks to the support of the British Council, Wales international, Welsh Arts Council and Theatr na nÓg, then here we are. In Makassar. Heading towards Wallacea Week.
Even before arriving, my head was spinning.
How can I justify flying to Indonesia in denial of Greta?
What will I find there? How would Wallace feel landing in Indonesia 2019?
My resistance was centred around a few muddled and clouded facts: Indonesia is the 4th most populated country in the world. It imports plastic waste – including Welsh plastic waste so that the Welsh Assembly can congratulate themselves on hitting their targets. Export plastic from the Rhondda valley to the other side of the world for statistics and targets. “Not in my back yard.” 18000 tons of plastic waste and 55000 tons of paper waste arrived in Indonesia in the first six months of 2019.
46% of the global total of humans live in 5 of its countries. China, India, USA, Indonesia and Brazil. Our richest natural treasures don’t have any hope of survival.
So, Malay Archipelago – a collection of islands. Between 13,466 and 18,307 islands depending on which report you read.
The Indonesian government officially lists 8,844 islands, 922 of which are permanently inhabited.
We’re collaborating with a fantastic group of Indonesian creatives and are being well looked after. Adin in particular has been offered guidance and hospitality. Abdi arrives next week and then things will really start to aim towards a new version of the performance incorporating Indonesian actor(s) and content.
So, yesterday, we set off to Bantimurung National Park. A place where Wallace landed between July and October 1857. During that time Wallace found 256 butterfly species from Bantimurung area. He coined the phrase of ‘Butterfly Kingdom’ for the area which is now a National Park following guidance from UNESCO. The second large Karst area in the world with the limestone, dolomite and gypsum creating a landscape not too dissimilar to his adventures in Porth yr Ogof.
Upon entry to the park yesterday, my heart sunk. Tawdry. Gaudy. Plundered. Exploited.
Wallace’s catalogue of 256 butterfly species had dwindled to 103 in the Mattimu report of 1977. I’m curious to discover the results of any survey during the past 5 years.
Captured butterflies are now peddled to tourists in glass frames or key rings.
Wallace was fully aware of the potential destruction of the human species. Perhaps he even anticipated this?
But then in the middle of it all, nature holds on by fingertips, claws and sessile growth.
In the “Bantimurung 1857 vs Bantimurung 2019” contest, there is only one winner.