24 May 2020
My world has been locked down and zoomed out.
I’ve been keen to use Garland magazine during the lockdown to share information and ideas across our network of makers and thinkers in the Indo-Pacific. Ironically, it’s been much easier than normal to contact people because no one is travelling. Internet access also has grown so that video chats are now possible in my network, even Iran.
But the discussions have brought home a significant divide. For most of the Australian makers I’ve contacted, this has been quite a creative period. Many have been able to migrate their teaching online and use their virtual communities like Instagram to sustain artistic energy. But talking with friends in countries like Vietnam and India, it’s quite a different story. With less surplus capital, there is greater dependence on sales and exports, which have been cancelled for the foreseeable future. At the World Crafts Council, we are desperately trying to find strategies that will help artisans sustain their practice.
Along the side have been discussions about alternatives to commodity sales for sustaining these craft practitioners. It’s interesting to see new practices evolving for sociality, such as the Bench O’Clock we’ve been doing on Friday evenings with Australian craftspersons. We’re currently exploring ways of connecting the workshop to the home for personalised commissions.
In some ways, this is an ideal holiday. No longer is time wasted in travel and I can enjoy the slow seasonal changes. But at the same time, its singularity adds a level of urgency. There is unlikely to be a better time to plant new seeds.
Kevin Murray is editor of Garland magazine and secretary of the World Crafts Council – Australia, and a member of IPCS.