The late Carole Muller has left a bequest of $1 million to the School of Languages and Cultures to support postgraduate students in their research on the areas of Balinese art, culture or history. Valued up to $35,000 per annum, the Carole Muller Awards were established in December 2019 to offer scholarships for postgraduate research at the University and fieldwork in Bali.
Carole Muller is known among the Australian academic community for her self-published books and contribution to research on the Bali Aga, the ethnic sub-group known as 'Mountain Balinese' or 'Original Balinese'.
“In honour of Carole’s memory, we are pleased to announce our first scholarship to support PhD research on Bali,” said Professor Adrian Vickers, Acting Head of the School of Languages and Cultures and professor in Southeast Asian studies. “Carole Muller’s generous gift will allow future research students to continue her interest in the visual culture of Bali Aga and contribute to the support of Balinese culture.”
In the early 1970s, Carole worked on hotel design in Bali with the renowned Australian architect Peter Muller. Her engagement with Balinese art and culture led to restorations of key sites, including the former home and studio of Dutch expatriate artist Rudolf Bonnet in Campuhan; the house of American architect Buckminster Fuller in Ubud; and the Tirta Gangga water palace in Karangasem.
Carole’s design work and eye for distinctive artistic forms led her to look at the Bali Aga culture. The Bali Aga see themselves as the indigenous Balinese in contrast to those who are descended from the priests and nobility of medieval Java. During the 1980s, she visited local villages to look at architectural form and traditional planning modes to understand their relationship to cosmology and social structure.
In her later years, Carole sought to further pursue her interest in Bali Aga visual culture through a Master of Arts (Honours) in 1982 at the University of Sydney where she undertook coursework with the Department of Indonesian Studies and postgraduate research in anthropology.
“Carole’s research on the Bali Aga had a significant impact on her own design work as well as the architects' whom she was associated with,” said Professor Vickers. “She was also an important supporter and mentor for others involved in research and artistic work on Bali.”
Despite macular degeneration, Carole published her results from decades-long field research which led to three books on Bali Aga villages. Carole passed away in Sydney on December 2017 at the age of 81.
“Carole’s determination to promote research on Bali Aga culture led to her bequest to the University in her will,” said Professor Vickers. “Her legacy will continue at the University of Sydney.”
The Carole Muller Awards are offered annually to eligible domestic and international PhD students of the University of Sydney.