Brunei can tap into natural clay pottery industry

National 2 minutes, 7 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

BRUNEI should take advantage of the plentiful clay resources available in the country, said a senior lecturer from Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD).

Dr Martie Geiger-Ho said Bruneians should tap into the natural clay pottery industry to take advantage of the niche market.

She said this on the sidelines of the ceramic exhibition at UBD’s Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Building.

The exhibition is slated to run until February 6.

“There is no commercial clay available in Brunei because students are more interested in petroleum than on-surface materials (such as clay),” she said.

Natural clay is a fine-grained natural rock. It is formed over long periods of time from the gradual chemical weathering of silicate-bearing rocks by low concentrations of carbonic acid and other diluted solvents.

Commercial clay or modeling clay is used in building and sculpting. Ceramic clays are water-based substances made from clay minerals mixed with other raw materials. They are baked at high temperatures, in a process known as firing to create ceramics such as terracotta, earthenware, stoneware and porcelain.

Dr Martie’s exhibition hopes to introduce the concept of using found clay, as opposed to processed commercial clay, to produce art.

“Brunei can use the natural resources to tap into a cottage industry. It is feasible because Brunei has its own kain tenunan at the Brunei Arts and Handicraft Training Centre in the capital. Why don’t they sell ceramics too,” said Dr Martie.

She highlighted that clay materials can be found in many rocky terrain or beaches in Brunei.

She added that Bruneians lack knowledge of how they can use natural clay to aid the development of the nation and its economy.

An example she gave was how knowledge on the process of clay brick making can help the country reduce its dependency on overseas clay imports while lowering production costs.

A report in 2014 stated that brick makers in Brunei stopped taking in new orders as the government-set price caps on clay bricks were lower than production costs.

“More can be done in Brunei. The locals should learn more on (making use of the country’s) natural resources like using clay bricks which can be used to construct houses,” said Dr Martie.

She said Bruneians can also equip themselves with clay carving skills to complement Brunei’s traditional ceramics and improve its handicraft industry.

“The locals can make different kinds of functional shapes and forms, but with Bruneian designs and identity. Start with a basket design, and then transfer to pottery,” she said.

The Brunei Times