About The Society

Formed in 1969, the Southeast Asian Ceramic Society’s purpose is to widen appreciation and acquire knowledge of the ceramic art of China and countries adjacent to China, especially those of Southeast Asia. To pursue this aim, local members meet for periodic discussion, to hear talks by experts and to study and compare ‘pots’.

The Southeast Asian Ceramics Society organised an inaugural Exhibition at the University Art Museum, Singapore in 1971. This landmark exhibition consisted of 350 examples of Khmer, Annamese and early Thai pottery, drawn largely from the University collection built up by Mr William Willetts, the curator, who served as the first President of the Society. A substantial number of pieces also came from the collection of Don Sinclair and other Members of the first Council.

The historian Mr John Guy has noted that this “presentation of the then little known ceramic tradition of Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam caused a stir amongst the oriental ceramic cognoscenti.” Furthermore, that “the Willetts pioneering Catalogue for the Society inspired a generation of younger scholars and stimulated the interest of government archaeological departments throughout Southeast Asia.” As a consequence, ceramic societies were to emerge in ensuing years in West Malaysia, Jakarta, Manila and Hong Kong, following the lead of the Singapore chapter.

The Society held 10 exhibitions in the period 1971-2009, and since 1999 has organised an annual William Willetts Lecture which is held immediately after the Society’s Annual General Meeting.

In 2009, the Society celebrated its 40th anniversary. A new book entitled “Southeast Asian Ceramics: New Light on Old Pottery” has been published and an exhibition of the same name was held at NUS Museum, Singapore from 14 November 2009 to 5 September 2010.


William Willetts Lectures

According to the Minutes of the 135th Council Meeting held on 29 April 1999:

“Point 3b. Name of Annual Lecture Following the Annual General Meeting: It was unanimously agreed to name the lecture which follows the AGM The William Willetts Lecture in memory of Mr Willetts who founded the Society.”

The First William Willetts Lecture was held in 1999.

2017  Professor John Miksic: “How Full is Our Bowl?”

2016  Professor Wang Gungwu: “By Land or Sea: Ceramics and Silk”

2015  Dr. Stacey Pierson: “What makes a Masterpiece? The Five Classic Wares of the Song and their Histories”

2014  Dr. Kenson Kwok: “How Peranakan is it?”

2013  Dawn Rooney: “Reflections on Southeast Asian Ceramics: Willetts’ Foresight”

2012  Professor Kwa Chong Guan: “Art of Angkor: Monuments and their Dating” (Recorded and uploaded to Youtube)

2011  Natalie SY Ong & Alvin Chia: Launch of SEACS Online Museum

2010  Rose Kerr: “Chinese Ceramics made for export to Southeast Asia in the Victoria & Albert Museum”

2009  Professor Peter Y.K. Lam: “Putting Broken Pieces Together: Dating evidences for 14th – 19th Century Chinese Ceramic Finds in Singapore”

2008  Dr John Miksic: “Strange Discoveries: Mysterious Artefacts in Singapore”

2007  John Guy: “Asian Ceramics in Production and Trade in Southeast Asia’s ‘Age of Empires’”

2006  Professor Wang Gungwu: “Tribute and Trade: The Ming Dynasty”

2005  Heidi Tan: “New Insights on Rare Vietnamese Ceramics in the Asian Civilisations Museum Collection”

2004  Professor Kwa Chong Guan: “The Indianisation of Southeast Asia”

2003  Dr Kenson Kwok: “Blanc de Chine – the Hickley Collection”

2002  Mr Anthony Lin: “The Imperial Porcelains of the Kangxi Era”

2001  Mr Dorian Ball “Salvage from Shipwrecks – Recovering Antique Porcelain for Collectors”

2000  Mrs Jean Martin: “Chinese Blue and White Ceramics: Singapore 1978 in Retrospect”

1999  Mr. Christopher Frape: “The Jade Culture of Ancient Vietnam”

Exhibitions organised by the Southeast Asian Ceramic Society, Singapore

10th exhibition, 2009 – Southeast Asian Ceramics: New Light on Old Pottery

9th exhibition, 1993 – Ceramics in Scholarly Taste

8th exhibition, 1991 – Spirit of Han: Ceramics for the Afterlife

7th exhibition, 1983 – Song Ceramics

6th exhibition, 1982 – Vietnamese Ceramics

5th exhibition, 1981 – Khmer Ceramics, 9th – 14th Century

4th exhibition, 1979 – Chinese Celadons and Other Related Wares in Southeast Asia

3rd exhibition, 1978 – Chinese Blue and White Ceramics

2nd exhibition, 1973 – Chinese White Wares

1st exhibition, 1971 – Ceramic Art of Southeast Asia