Lale Dilbaş – Keynote
Hidden Pottery: Potters of the Rain Forest
Pottery in Malaysia is perceived through a traditional point of view and is able to continue with specific and strong governmental support, as is the case in India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Nepal. This geography, due to it being surrounded by rivers and receiving abundant rain, has the ideal environmental conditions to provide potters rich raw materials. Be it an abandoned rice field dug up by cattle, a muddy river bed packed with crocodiles, a cave in the depths of a dense rainforest, or mud piled up on the curb of the city’s busiest roads, Malaysia is extremely rich and diverse in terms of clay resources. Apart from the abundance of raw materials, another reason the tradition continues persistently is the respect the community shows for clay products produced in South Asia. Of course, however, each potter or pottery village has not been able to preserve their presence over the centuries. With the aim of documenting and recording this tradition, a road map has been drawn based on information obtained from the researchers and archaeologists who previously worked at these sites almost half a century ago. With this map we were able to find villages where pottery production was still vividly continued, or in some cases came across the funeral of a potter who had recently departed due to old age. Having this map in hand, the journey to the defined pottery settlements, travelling through land, sea, air, and rivers, transformed this trip into an adventurous experience.
Dilbaş was born in Istanbul, Turkey, and graduated from Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University, Istanbul. After completing her Ph.D. at Edinburgh College of Art, Scotland, she returned to her homeland and lectured at Dokuz Eylul University for more than 20 years. She then worked and lived in Malaysia for two years as senior lecturer in the ceramics department at the Universiti Malaysia Sarawak. She is currently a professor of ceramics and glass at Yasar University and the dean of the faculty of art and design.
She has undertaken many research projects in Southeast Asia based on traditional pottery making and traveled extensively. Her own work combining glass and ceramic attracts attention over a spectrum of fields from elements of symbolism to grotesque architectural figures and perceptual views of the audience through glass.