Mana Fia with a copy of the article in which she is featured.

I was listening to an author talk about his latest book on Islamic prayers sung in Indonesia. He focused particularly on a singer who performed a traditional style of recitation that was disappearing. I was thinking that this kind of ethnography might be useful to the singer, as it would demonstrate its importance to others. But when I asked how the singer responded to his study, he looked horrified: “I would never show him my book! That would corrupt the data.” What a waste, I thought. …


This is a keynote talk given at a forum on 29 June 2018 to mark the aspiration of Qingdao to host the World Crafts Council Centre for Culture and Craft.

In 1964, Aileen Osborn Webb remarked, “It is the things of the spirit, the arts of the country, which has always let mankind forward.” Her vision in founding the World Crafts Council is a story that we commemorate today, as we start a new chapter.

Of course, we are drawn to China’s own story of world transformation, which continues the history of the Silk Road to the modern vision of…


Bridget Kennedy, A year of time, 2017, installation

The Israelites left Egypt for the “promised land”. After travelling for 44 days, they arrived at Mount Sinai, where their god was finally revealed in a burning bush. Their leader Moses duly ascended the mountain in order to receive divine guidance for the rest of their journey. For forty days, they had no sign of Moses. Anxious for divine presence, the Israelites confronted Moses’ brother, Aaron, demanding that he make them a god to worship. Previously they had received divine instruction while escaping Egypt to plunder the Egyptians of their elaborate jewellery…


Nalda Searles, Hybrid stole

Grass is the forgiveness of nature — her constant benediction. Fields trampled with battle, saturated with blood, torn with the ruts of cannon, grow green again with grass, and carnage is forgotten. Streets abandoned by traffic become grass-grown like rural lanes and are obliterated…

In 1870, the renowned Kansas orator Senator John James Ingalls gave a speech titled ‘In Praise of Blue Grass’. He offered soothing words at a time when American South looked to the restorative powers of nature to heal the damage of the recent civil war. In the work of Australian artist Nalda…


Image from Cornucopia for WALKA in Joyaviva exhibition

As the Germans say, ‘Jeder ist seines Glückes Schmied’ — everyone makes their own luck. So how do you make luck? Or is it something that can be made at all? We assume that luck is something bestowed by fate. Like a shamrock, luck is found rather than made. Luck reflects all those factors that are out of our control, like bolts of lightning or random rolls of the dice. You can’t make it. It makes you. So it seems a paradox. How can you harness a force that must be out of our grasp?

Last year, a woman accidentally…


The extraordinary decision to site an Apple Store at the centre of Melbourne’s public space speaks to a deep insecurity about the city’s place in the world. The “hemispheric cringe” emerges from a resignation that we can never have anything that is worthy of “world” significance: we hope instead to be top of the B-league in the southern hemisphere.

Here’s an article I wrote in 2008 about the self-defeating attitude of those who fear living at the “bottom of the world”.

There is a rumbling down-under. We are ‘turning the page’ with a new government, facing the challenge of a…


The Indonesian nation was founded on the five principles of Pancasila: divinity, humanism, nationalism, democracy and social justice. In 1945, the Indonesian President Sukarno reduced these to the fundamental principle of gotong royong, or mutual cooperation. This is the official story of values Indonesia presents to the world.

This issue of Garland is a kind of “gotong royong”. We’ve been advised by a dedicated team of young Indonesians who are keen to see this value updated to the country of today, 72 years later. The textile designer, Frans Pandjaitan sees this concept as more relevant to agricultural communities, where members…


Over the years, I’ve corresponded with people in Aotearoa / New Zealand. Almost all of them, including both Pākeha and Māori, have responded with the salutation, “Kia Ora…” By contrast, my generic response, “Dear…” or “Hi…” seemed lacking in culture. I’ve tried to counter that by including the latest weather forecast in my signature, at least to make evident that this message in the cloud comes from somewhere on earth. But that’s not a shared ritual.

Occasionally, I will start an email correspondence with “Cooee…” which does have Australasian roots and at least acknowledges my settler background. But “Cooee…” is…


The new World Cities of Craft in Iran have been approved by the World Crafts Council: Marivan (Kurdistan) for Klash Stitched Footwear, Sirjan (Kerman) for Shikiri-Peech kilim weaving and Kalpourgan (Sistani-Baluchistan) for handmade pottery. Details of these cities are below.

Marivan in Kurdistan is famous for its Klash, stitched shoes

Klash seems to play an important role in the livelihood of the population and its constitutes the main source of income. The production is dispersed throughout the city and villages. 90% of the artisans appeared to have retirement benefit and insurance. With a high unemployment rate, Klash cottage industry provides an opportunity to earn money necessary for maintaining a household…


Sirjan, Warp of Love and Art

Recently I visited the Iranian city of Sirjan, as part of a World Crafts Council delegation to assess their claim to be a World Craft City for Kilim, Shiriki-Pech to be precise. On arrival, we found billboards around the city describing it as Kilim City — “Warp of love and art”.

This branding made me think about the meaning of love in the presentation of traditional culture. The crowd that came out to greet us in Darestan seemed filled with pride in their craft. The street was lined with weavers demonstrating all the stages of the kilim. …

Kevin Murray

Edits Garland magazine and is Senior Vice-President of World Crafts Council - Asia Pacific.

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