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NI interior designer who created tropical getaways for Jagger and Bowie dies at 70

By Brett Campbell

Published 07/01/2017

Linda Garland
Linda Garland
Richard Branson's home in Bali
Richard Branson's Bali home
Mick Jagger
David Bowie
Richard Branson

A Co Down woman known for designing some of the world's most stunning tropical getaways has died.

Linda Garland, who decorated the luxurious homes of the world's biggest stars - including David Bowie and Mick Jagger - succumbed to her long battle with cancer this week.

Ms Garland earned herself the nickname 'the bamboo crusader' because of her sustainable building projects and environmentalist work.

She was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2010.

The Newry woman battled with the illness for the last six years but she passed away in hospital in Victoria, Australia, on Tuesday.

She was 70 when she died.

The design artist is responsible for the theme of numerous extravagant tropical homes owned by the world's wealthiest people, including Richard Branson.

The interior designer and landscape artist was one of two children who grew up on a large estate in Newry.

She moved to London in the middle of the Swinging Sixties when she was 18-years-old to pursue her design ambitions.

But just two years later, while in Italy, a near-fatal car crash changed the course of her life entirely.

After spending months recovering in hospital she decided to travel the world collecting fabrics and artefacts and by 1974 she had settled in Bali.

The bamboo queen's exploration of local crafts paid off and by the 1980s her interior design business was booming. She quickly gained a reputation for her sustainable ecological projects.

One of her best known works is the famous Panchoran Retreat in Bali.

The eco-friendly estate comprises six well spaced out villas made of bamboo and tiered down a lush hillside overlooking a small river on the Indonesian island.

The retreat has a 26-metre pool which is fed with water from a nearby spring.

Linda was also the mastermind behind the decor of the late David Bowie's tropical hideaway on the private Caribbean island of Mustique. The Indonesian-themed house unfolds in a series of Balinese temple pavilions, cleverly arranged around a two-tiered ornamental pool.

Linda's signature look was most evident in the spacious property's bamboo lounge and home studio which also had a bamboo ceiling. Linda gained Indonesian citizenship following her marriage to Amir Rabik.

In 1993 she founded the Environmental Bamboo Foundation after becoming increasingly concerned by the destruction of forests.

The non-profit organisation will continue to seek to alleviate the devastating impact of deforestation in Indonesia, now championed by her son Arief Rabik.

Duncan Murray Kirk, a friend of Linda's, posted a tribute to her on Facebook.

In it she said: "I feel a deep gratitude to have been a close friend and to have received the guiding light that she spread widely for the greater good of humanity and its ecology."

Amir Sidharta also paid tribute, writing: "RIP Linda Garland, the grand lady of bamboo!

"Thank you for supporting Bali's creative industries since the 1980s.

"Thank you for inspiring many craftsman in Indonesia. Thank you for helping make Indonesia 'cool' to the world. Thank you for all your trust. And also thank you for introducing me to David Bowie."

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