Newsletter March 2007

Hi Folks,

Thank you for your enthusiastic and encouraging response to our first newsletter.  Through 2007, I will continue writing the series and presenting some of the most fascinating finds and fun places in the Far East and inviting you to shows, lectures, gatherings and parties.

In this, our second newsletter, I will focus on two subjects.  First, is the stunningly beautiful underwater life in the Bali Barat National Park and a glimpse of the only resort within its boundaries.  Second, is the main feature about our upcoming show, “Works of Clay – 3,000 Years of Form and Function,” which begins March 22nd, 2007.  This show will offer a broader perspective on how pottery has developed and bein then used in parts of the East in the past 30 centuries.

I hope it will be as compelling and inspiring for you as it has been for us.

Live well, give thanks, and be happy.


Works of Clay – 3,000 Years of Form and Function

This show is intended to elicit pleasure in and appreciation for the diverse uses and forms of fired clay from China, Thailand, and Indonesia over the past 3,000 years.  This is not a pinpoint or scholarly exhibit, rather a broad brushstroke of beautiful shapes, intriguing techniques and common and surprising functions of handmade clay work.

Most pieces in the show I personally collected over the past few years in Asia.  Though I have worked with clay on and off for 35 years, I have been awestruck by what I’ve found and brought back to the David Alan Collection.  I hope you will be similarly intrigued and inspired.  The pieces in the show fall roughly into five categories:

1) Ancient Chinese 11th C. B.C. – 10th C. A.D. — Most of these terracotta pieces were made specifically to be placed in tombs of royalty or other persons of great wealth.  The people to be buried wished to be surrounded by everything they wanted to have in the next life including food, wine, animals (pigs, horses, etc.), musicians, homes and fortresses…etc.  Many of these original pieces are shown in this collection.

2) Shipwreck Chinese 11th – 15th C. — There have been many merchant shipwreck discoveries in the South China Sea and elsewhere in the past 2 or 3 decades.  The cargo (heading to middle class markets around the world) included Chinese ceramics dating from the 11th to 15th Century.  Our shipwreck collection includes mercury bottles, water jars, and plate and bowls with celadon glazes from S. China.  All pieces are high fired and glazed.

3) Utilitarian Chinese and Thai 17th – 19th C. — I have found these medium and large storage jars across the East, from China to Java.  Many were brought to Borneo to trade for exotic hardwoods, bird feathers, nests, etc. and later found their way to Java.  They were used on merchant vessels for water, food storage and ballast, though upon arrival in Indonesia they were perceived to have almost magical qualities because of their strength, beauty and color.

4) Sculptural/Architectural, Chinese and Indonesian 16th – 20th C. — These folk art pieces range from 16th C. folk sculptures to 18th C. terracotta roof tiles with animals perched atop, to early 20th C. porcelain.  The fun and the fantastic earmark this latter group, and many of these have nearly unfathomable uses.

5) Contemporary Thai and Indonesian — These larger vessels exemplify the creativity and innovation of contemporary artists from Lombok, Bali, and N. Thailand.  We believe that their creative spirit and high level of craftsmanship will endure for centuries to come.

Snorkeling at Bali’s Waka Shorea Eco-Getaway

After a heavenly 3 hour drive from Ubud through the rice fields and misty mountains of Bali, we arrived at the reception and boat launch of Waka Shorea, an eco-resort within the Bali Barat National Park in Northwest Bali.  Only a 20-minute boat ride away, but truly in a world of its own.  Waka’s 14 bungalows and 2 villas make it an intimate and private retreat.  The grounds are intentionally under-maintained and blend right into the park itself.  There is no attempt at “perfection,” with fallen leaves everywhere except on your private deck.  The bungalows are comfortable and the staff is pure Balinese – effortlessly sweet, friendly and helpful.

Every evening we all dined by pure candlelight on a deck, only a short walking distance from the resort’s buildings.  A great breakfast and afternoon tea and treats are also provided.

Aside from the sweet serenity of unhurried days, magical evenings, and a great cache of like-minded fellow travelers from all over the world to trade tales with, the real attraction here is the life teeming under the surface of the water.  Reaching far out into the deliciously warm water, the steps of the resort’s pier descend into an unearthly world of moving color.  There is no other access than Waka’s own launch, and they retain their own dive masters as well as keep an on-site dive shop.  Not only is this area regarded as one of the greatest snorkeling spots on Earth, but you will probably have theis stretch of coastline all to yourself.  While at Waka Shorea, do not miss the chance for a day trip to Menjangan Island, another shockingly beautiful underwater preserve whose island remains uninhabited.

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Having journeyed to the Far East and Asia over 20 times in the past 20 years, I’ve been intrigued and inspired by the ingenuity, craftsmanship, balance and human spirit that have gone into the making of those works I have seen and collected.

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