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Garland magazine

Garland magazine

By Stories behind what we make

The stories behind what we make.
Over a five year journey of the Indo-Pacific, we explore beautiful and thoughtful objects. What do these objects tell us about our world today? We see a striking revival of ancient traditions that re-orients us to the future.
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The Mashrabiya Project at the Museum of Art and Wood

Garland magazineSep 13, 2023

The Mashrabiya Project at the Museum of Art and Wood

The Mashrabiya Project at the Museum of Art and Wood

We speak with Jennifer-Navva Milliken, director of the Museum of Art and Wood about a fascinating project inspired by the iconic lattice wooden screen of the Islamic world.

Sep 13, 202333:19
Lavina Baldota on Sutr Santati

Lavina Baldota on Sutr Santati

We speak with the curator of the magnificent exhibition Sutr Santati, in celebration of the 75th anniversary of Indian independence. This exhibition consists of 100 textile works representing an impressive range of techniques including Kutch embroidery, patola, brocades, sequin work, applique, block printing, silk tapestry and ikat.

Jul 12, 202319:04
Biopolymer fibre in basketry: An interview with Paula Camiña about Co-Obradoiro Galego

Biopolymer fibre in basketry: An interview with Paula Camiña about Co-Obradoiro Galego

Co-Obradoiro Galego is a collaborative project by three basketmakers and designer Paula Camiña, looking at biotechniques to help regenerate and revive Galician craft heritage. We speak with Paula about the origins of this project and how it stems from her own roots in the region. We learn about the impact of foresty monoculture and its impact on basketmakers. The use of a biopolymer fibre produced from seafood waste offers a circular path to help promote this traditional craft.

Jun 22, 202321:52
Hand makes hand: Hanne Brøbech Sønnichsen on Danish craft education

Hand makes hand: Hanne Brøbech Sønnichsen on Danish craft education

Hanne Brøbech Sønnichsen is the chairperson of Danish Crafts and Design.

For the organisation's Formkraft publication, she recently wrote Greasy Fingers and Practical Research Help Craft Out of the Display Case which reflect on the student revolt against the lack of technical education in their craft program.

"That the students see themselves more as practitioners of craft rather than craft artist (kunsthåndværkere) is perfectly fine. We must – and this also applies to us at DKoD (Danish Crafts & Design Association)- clear up the concepts and remember that ‘craft’ gives associations to handwork, whereas ‘kunsthåndværk’ signals that there is also a certain aesthetic ambition involved."

"Artistic craft is something essential and valuable that we must pass on to the next generation. Otherwise, the basic know-how and foundation for Danish design will lose its shape."

In this podcast, we learn of the background to this controversy, the specifically Danish understanding of craft, and also her opinions about craft education. Underlying this is her philosophy that "hand teaches hand" .

Apr 27, 202329:08
1 square metre of linen: Life begins where the Internet ends
Feb 09, 202345:59
Patrick Webb ✿ A generous coat of craft thinking

Patrick Webb ✿ A generous coat of craft thinking

Our current issue, titled Know How: The Grammar of Making, features an article by Patrick Webb, titled Maker Mythologies Classical Origin Stories for the Crafts, which is a fascinating overview of the key role played by craft in the ancient understanding of the world as a divine creation. This is a taste of the rich offerings from his blog called Real Finishes, which I highly recommend. What intrigues me about Patrick is that he articulates this complex world knowledge not as a university professor in humanities, but as an exponent of his own craft, as a plasterer.

Patrick offers a view of the world through the eyes (and hands) of a plasterer. For Patrick, plaster is part of the process by which humans were able to leave their caves and venture out into the world. Of course, the very word "ceiling" derives from the importance of plaster in rendering impermeable membranes for our shelter.

Plaster is by nature a demanding substance. Beginning as a liquid, it quickly sets when exposed to air, which causes Patrick to believe that "the material is the master."

When I ask Patrick whether craft could be considered a form of knowledge, he doesn't shy from its dimension as labour: "What I do requires a great bit of physical exertion. You build muscles, you sweat." Rather than drudgery, Patrick sees the physicality of plastering as good for both physical and mental health.

Nonetheless, Patrick does advocate for a kind of knowledge that is revealed in the doing. When he reaches the limits of describing this in his writing, Patrick then turns to poetry to reflect this haptic understanding.

Patrick offers a critique of Plato, particularly the way his academy required students to know geometry, yet would not admit artisans who he saw as a lower form of life.

I was curious how Patrick gathers so much knowledge outside the modern academy of the university. For Patrick, the university is "a place of intellect and cognition" and therefore not a natural place for the "arts and crafts". Craft knowledge is embodied experience that is best taught through the apprenticeship system.

I wonder if that is necessarily so, especially given Patrick's critique of Plato's academy for the exclusion of artisans.

Finally, I brooch the issue of gender in Patrick's language, which frequently mentions "craftsman". Patrick says that he did ask some female students what they preferred to be called, and found "craftsman" the most popular.

What I appreciate while listening to Patrick is his generosity of knowledge. He puts great effort into his various writings without the systemic rewards that are built into academic careers. It is a testament to knowledge as a currency that we can all share.

Oct 27, 202241:47
Neke Moa ✿ How to make deities for everyday use

Neke Moa ✿ How to make deities for everyday use

We interview Neke Moa to learn about being a custodian of pounamu and how she uses it to connect with atua as guiding spirits. 

More info:

Sep 22, 202239:32
Glenn Adamson on Material Intelligence and the scientific turn in crafts

Glenn Adamson on Material Intelligence and the scientific turn in crafts

Glenn Adamson speaks about the new publication project, Material Intelligence. He reflects on how this project evolved from his return to the Chipstone Foundation in Milwaukee. Adamson describes the need in craft writing to keep in mind the publication as an object, in this case, a PDF which will become a book. In terms of readership, he aims to engage with a scientific community who are practically working with materials. We discuss the nature of "material intelligence": how thinking might have a craft-base and its relationship to the modernist principle of "truth in material". 

Finally, Adamson offers a book recommendation by technology writer, John Markoff: Machines of Loving Grace: The Quest for Common Ground Between Humans and Robots.

Jul 07, 202235:48
Jesse Adams Stein - Do we still need to make things?
Jun 23, 202231:42
Masters of Craft - five years later

Masters of Craft - five years later

We interview Richard Ocejo, author of Masters of Craft: New Jobs in the Old Economy (2017). This intriguing book described a trend among white middle-class men in taking on manual trades. These included bartender, barber, butcher and distiller. We explore how this differentiates from the hipster figure as an ironic consumer and the complications of the term "master". Then we turn to the impact of the pandemic on these gentrified trades. Their dependence on an audience means the lockdown did have a negative effect on their work. 

Ocejo ends with a powerful tale of a local potter who teaches his craft who told him: 

"The world doesn't need more plates. The world doesn't need more cups. That's not what we're doing here. We're trying to connect people here with an ancient practice and that's what makes us who we are." 

Mar 31, 202240:30
The spirit of Mingei in MUJI and manga
Dec 28, 202138:47
Hamza El Fasiki ✿ Lockdown reveals the enduring crafts of Morocco
Sep 16, 202143:12
Kaamya Sharma ✿ A salutary lesson for us craft snobs

Kaamya Sharma ✿ A salutary lesson for us craft snobs

Kaamya Sharma is an academic who has recently turned knowledge worker for the crafts. We speak to her at home in Madurai, after leaving a secure position at the Institute of Technology, Jodhpur, and embracing an independent practice building technologies for artisans. 

Kaamya is a talented writer and deep thinker who is able to see both sides of the story. We dwell on her research into the value of saris in Chennai, which features the concept of "sartorial bio-moralism". She questions the hierarchy that positions handwoven and natural-dyed over machine-made and chemical dyed. For Kaamya, this is often an expression of class value designed to differentiate upper classes from those in lower castes and menial livelihoods. 

Her questioning poses a challenge. How can we sustain the value of the handmade without subscribing to the kind of snobbery that looks down on those who choose machine-made alternatives, often for utilitarian and sometimes even aesthetic reasons? Much to think about.  

Jul 09, 202134:11
Malika Verma on the Śilpa series
May 03, 202134:09
Anna Battista, the woman behind Irenebrination
Apr 06, 202140:14
Jay Thakkar ✿ The fourth wave in craft education

Jay Thakkar ✿ The fourth wave in craft education

Our first podcast of 2021 features one of the most innovative forces in Indian craft, reflecting Ahmedabad’s status as a unique cultural centre.

We speak to Jay Thakkar on the eve of the legendary kite festival in Ahmedabad, and we begin by learning what the city is like during this spectacular event and how COVID has affected the themes of kite design. We discuss his ambitious project on vernacular furniture, which was told previously in our story by Mitraja Bais. We also hear about the five-year-long exchange with a Kutch village Guniyali which culminated recently in the launch of a virtual exhibition with the support of the British Council.

Jay shares with us his thoughts on craft education in India and proposes a “fourth wave” in which designers seek learning from the villagers themselves in location. Finally, we learn some of the deeper values that underpin is work, and a saying of his father’s that money is like wheat. Listen and learn why this is so.

Jay Thakkar is an Associate Professor, Head of Exhibition at CEPT University and Co-founder and Executive Director at Design Innovation and Craft Resource Centre (DICRC) at CRDF, Ahmedabad, India. You visit the virtual exhibition Celebrating Gundiyali here.

Jan 13, 202137:46
Laila Al Hamad ✿ The craft of smell
Sep 17, 202032:47
Art for life: The hanging garlands of Pompeii according to Dylan Rogers
Jul 08, 202027:46
Maikel Kuijpers on material thinking and the Future is Handmade
Jun 17, 202038:42
Ashoke Chatterjee - We must revive the villages
May 07, 202041:48
Chandan Bose ✿ The rich social world of patam art in Telangana

Chandan Bose ✿ The rich social world of patam art in Telangana

Our latest podcast interview with leading craft scholars includes Chandan Bose, whose study of naqqash artisans in Telangana reveals the rich social world of this narrative art form.

There is a new generation of craft scholars who seek to work in partnership with artisans. Chandan Bose recently published book on patam art in Telangana is very much a conversation a naqqash artist, Vaikuntam. The book is a very thorough account of this graphic art, along with the complex social relations it involves. But Bose also reflects on the active role played by Vaikuntam in leveraging ethnography to promote his caste. As he quotes Vaikuntam, “It is only because you are asking these questions that I am telling all of this.”

As part of our series of podcasts on leading craft scholars, we interviewed Chandan Bose about the path that led to Vaikuntam and the issues it raised. We learn about how the plight of Gond folk artists prompted his concern about the role and value of the artisan in contemporary India. He reflects on the value of formalised heritage structures such as Geographic Indicators and future challenges to be explored.

Chandan Bose is Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Sociology, Department of Liberal Arts, Indian Institute of Technology, Hyderabad. His work focuses on the meaning of work and livelihood, and ways of knowledge production and sharing among skilled communities. His first monograph Conversations Around Craft (2019) is an ethnographic study of a household of artisans in Telangana, who share their experience of making ‘crafts’ and of being ‘craftspersons’ in contemporary India. He is currently working with second-generation artisans in urban India to understand how inheritance, technology and urbanization help shape visions of a future.

See Garland magazine for more details and images. 

Further reading

Bose, Chandan. 2019. Perspectives on Work, Home, and Identity From Artisans in Telangana: Conversations Around Craft. Springer.

Apr 21, 202041:08
Love across the Indian Ocean
Apr 07, 202057:41
A romance between a "white" and "black" Jew in southern India: Interview with Bony Thomas
Mar 27, 202028:48
To meet makers in distant lands: A global discussion
Feb 12, 202051:13
Genevieve Weber on "radical empathy" as an archivist

Genevieve Weber on "radical empathy" as an archivist

Genevieve Weber follows up her article Gratitude in the Archives with an account of how she became an archivist and the role that "radical empathy" plays in her custodianship of historical Canadian documents. We learn about the history of Residency Schools and the resulting Truth and Reconciliation Commission. 

Feb 11, 202028:40
A conversation with Indian craft scholar Aarti Kawlra
Feb 05, 202039:50
Rosie Cook's journey to an Indonesian village in search of the melodious bundengan

Rosie Cook's journey to an Indonesian village in search of the melodious bundengan

Rosie Cook reflects on the story behind her article Lessons learned from a duck herder’s gamelan. She recounts her journey to become a conservator and how this was radically changed by her encounter will villagers in Wonosobo, Indonesia. Her story also reveals a surprising capacity of Instagram. 

Nov 23, 201940:40
Working in China as an artist

Working in China as an artist

22 June 2019, National Gallery of Victoria

This panel was an opportunity to learn from those who are engaged with China as artists or curators.

  • What are the challenges in connecting with audiences in mainland China?
  • What opportunities make the effort worthwhile?
  • How can we maintain contact with the Chinese scene from Australia?

Speakers include:

  • Yiwei Wu – Founder of Yiwei Art Foundation and SanW Gallery in Shanghai
  • Vicki Mason – jewellery artist in residence at San W Studio and SIVA Artist Residency Project
  • Robin Best – Australian ceramicist working in Jingdezhen
  • Philip Faulks – Melbourne paper cut artist
  • Wilson Yeung Chun Wai – Creative Events Manager, Museum of Chinese Australian History
Sep 26, 201901:28:40
A Conversation between Dragons
Sep 26, 201901:18:18
Interview with Brian Parkes about the epic Art Design Architecture series of touring exhibitions

Interview with Brian Parkes about the epic Art Design Architecture series of touring exhibitions

We chat with Brian Parkes, CEO of Adelaide's Jam Factory Craft & Design Centre, about an ambitious series of touring exhibitions that have helped define Australian craft and design in the 21st century. 

Sep 23, 201937:06