Rising Star Award for Young Alumni: Saiful Bakhri

An individual who is 30 years of age or under and has demonstrated an outstanding level of professional achievement and community involvement since graduating from the University of Melbourne and/or has been recognised by colleagues and peers for their outstanding leadership and impact as a global citizen.

Saiful Bakhri

Saiful Bakhri

Master of Cultural Materials Conservation, 2018

Saiful Bakhri is a conservator at the Bali Cultural Heritage Preservation Office and a cultural heritage conservation consultant who has led conservation projects focused on disaster preparedness and recovery.

While studying archaeology in Indonesia, Saiful observed that Indonesia had a lack of conservators despite an abundance of cultural artefacts. He came to Melbourne to study the Master of Cultural Materials Conservation in the hope that through his studies he would develop knowledge and skills which he could take back home.

While a student at the University of Melbourne, Saiful founded Konservaction, a student-led Indonesian/Australian working group focusing on the conservation of Indonesian heritage which provides an international platform for students to develop skills in project management, workshop delivery and cross-cultural learning. Konservaction's two grant-funded projects saw six University of Melbourne students implement conservation projects with Balinese collecting institutions.

Saiful's focus as an emerging conservation professional is on building cultural material conservation as a profession in Indonesia in order to advance heritage care in the region. Having graduated in 2018, Saiful is now actively engaged in providing cross-cultural exchange opportunities between University of Melbourne students and museums in Bali.

In his own words

I am very humbled to achieve the Faculty of Arts’ Rising Star Award for Young Alumni 2020. This award is not only a reminder for me not to limit myself, but also serves as a milestone for me to continue serving communities and conserving cultural heritage.

I enjoy working on archaeological and ethnographic objects most of all. These objects are quite challenging to work with because they are mostly made from a combination of various materials. Also, when they belong to the communities, they are usually sacred so the custodians will hold some obligatory rituals prior to the treatment. This certainly will affect the decision-making process in conservation.

I think conserving our culture essentially means conserving our diverse identities which eventually will lead to a more peaceful and respectful world. It may sound cliché, but a world without culture might be bland.

The artists and craftsmen in Bali never fail to inspire me. In Bali, there are still locals who use traditional methods to sculpt stones, bricks and timber in order to decorate temples, create beautiful statues and so on. I personally believe these people will be excellent collaborators for conservators.

I would like to present this award to the Grimwade Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation, particularly to Professor Robyn Sloggett for her subject, RESPECT, where she gave me invaluable insights and inspired me to work in unconventional ways. I would also like to thank Dr Marcelle Scott, a thoughtful mentor in two projects that my colleagues and I undertook in Indonesia during our studies, and last but not least, to Dr Nicole Tse, my supervisor, for the thoughts, inputs, and unwavering support during my studies.

Image supplied.