Samui Wining & Dining
THE NATURE OF ART
There are a hundred places to buy gifts – but at Nature Art Gallery everything’s
a hand-made object of desire!

There are a hundred places to buy gifts – but at Nature Art Gallery everything’s a hand-made object of desire!We’re all going to do it. Everybody does. You can’t avoid it, and it’s partly the reason you’re here. You might do it in Bangkok. Or you might do it on Samui. It really doesn’t matter how long you stay, four days or 40. Because . . . some of that time you’ll spend buying gifts. Thailand is a nation that’s rich in tradition, and well-known for its artefacts. But, unfortunately, this limits your choice. Some silk fabric maybe? A painting you can roll up and pack? But anything much bigger simply won’t work. So you’ll look around for some really nice jewellery or a bag or a purse; something small and special. And that is where Nature Art Gallery comes in.

          

Even from outside, the shop is alluring. It shines out. All around is the flash and glare of neon. But this shop sits glowing warmly, a soulful oasis amidst the cheap glitter all around. This is partly due to the warm lighting. But more so because every single surface – ceiling, walls, floor – is covered in the same golden wood. And everywhere, in glass cases, on shelves, in display cases, in rows and trays, lined up on benches and displayed out on stands, are hundreds, thousands maybe, of countless little treasures.

          

In fact, once you’ve come in through the door, you’ll come to a halt, a total standstill. Your head will turn, eyes wide, scanning in wonder and trying to take it all in. You’ll wander slowly around, looking this way and that, trying to work out what’s on display. It’s not only the fact that there’s just so much choice. It’s also that there’s something in the air. Some kind of tranquillity or gentle energy, perhaps? There’s no noise or tension at all. There are a hundred places to buy gifts – but at Nature Art Gallery everything’s a hand-made object of desire!And I think there’s a genuine reason for this – as you’ll discover when you read on below!

          

This is the Nature Art Gallery shop that’s on Chaweng Beach Road, and it’s actually one of four outlets, all of the same name. To begin with there were two shops over on Koh Pha-ngan. And then partners, Michael Trav and Shai Nissim, opened this one here seven years ago, just across from the entrance to what’s now Central Festival. And then they added a fourth, inside the shopping centre itself, up on the first floor above Uniqlo. And what they all have in common is that almost everything is carefully crafted by hand. And there’s not only jewellery, but also a wide selection of fine leatherwork; bags and belts and wallets and purses, wonderfully made from not just calf leather but also shark, stingray, ostrich, snake and crocodile skin, too.

          

You’ll get a more significant insight into what’s at the heart of this enterprise when you learn that Shai comes from a background which has evolved around Reiki, massage and reflexology. And, having been involved in, and studied these esoteric disciplines for many years, he’s additionally become attuned to the potential energy of stones and crystals. “Used wisely, their energies can align you with more positive physical health,” he explained. “Each type of stone has its own properties, and when these are matched to the vibrations of your chakras, they can assist in healing physical ailments or in enhancing concentration, and in many other directions, too.”

          

For the casual shopper this might come as a kind of information overload. But Michael and Shai are usually both on hand to gently explain this in more detail, and are always happy to do so. There’s also a range of free literature you can take away with you that underlies his thinking.

          

But on a simple and very practical level, what it all means is this: you’re in the right place! You’re looking for hand-crafted gifts, but with people in mind; family or friends. All of the jewellery here, rings, bracelets, necklaces (and matched combinations of these in sets), is not only durably made from mostly silver, but also is set with semiprecious stones or crystals which have inherent beneficial or healing properties. There are a hundred places to buy gifts – but at Nature Art Gallery everything’s a hand-made object of desire!Talking with the staff here will quickly help you to select the right type of stone to complement or enhance the personality or disposition of someone close to you – or even yourself! The spectrum of styles ranges from conservative to avant garde, so it’s not difficult to pick out something not only specific but also very attractive, too.

          

The other thing that you won’t realise is that, because so many of their products are handmade, the workshops can alter most items to fit, or adapt their style to order, or even custom-make something to your design and specification. And, in the same vein, if you have, say, a treasured wedding ring that is now too small, it can probably be altered to fit in no time at all in the workshop upstairs.

          

But I want to finish by looking more closely at some of those bags, belts and wallets. They’re really quite special, and no two are the same, particularly the larger bags as their size gives much more scope for creative decoration. The craftsmanship is excellent, and they’ll last a lifetime, but they’re also supple and soft at the same time. Some of these are almost magical, incorporating polished stones or crystals, and using woven or plaited or beaded combinations of sometimes complementary-different leathers on the pouches or pockets

          

You can pick up a leather bag, a silver bracelet or ring anywhere. But works of art of this quality are hard to find. The most elaborate of these doesn’t come cheap; nor should it. But you’ll also find a whole range of leather and coral, or some beaded items starting at just a few hundred baht. The first time you go you’ll buy something, that’s for sure. But you’ll be back again – Nature Art Gallery is that kind of shop!

          

 Rob De Wet


 


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