The path we took, between past and future
The second stage in our second journey picks up one of the key themes developed so far. Many stories have featured the revival of museum artefacts in an attempt to preserve not the object itself but the skills that produced it. This also then helps produce more objects that can return to their communities for rejuvenation of ceremonies.
This is today’s version of a craft renaissance, the first of which was the Arts & Crafts Movement. It engages with the post-colonial condition as Indigenous peoples attempt to recover what of their material culture was lost in colonisation and modernity. It also involves a new generation of “thinker-makers”, who have pursued their crafts through post-graduate study. The Masters of PhD has provided the framework for taking on this revival as a project.
As pathfinders, we journeyed over three months through many questions about how we connect the past and the future. We began asking whether there could be new crafts. This issue’s thinker-maker, Pamela See argued that augmented reality fulfilled William Morris’s concept of the lesser arts. This led us to question the value of a “heritage skill” which had no practical use today. Finding heritage skill to have a strong cultural value, we then asked who that skill belonged to. Could anyone revive a lost craft?
Finally, we considered whether “revival” was the only way of connecting to the past. We were helped by two Tongan philosophers, who elaborated the epistemology of tavaism, in which “the past is in front of us”.
Through this lens, the past is always there, we just need to know where to look for it. This leads to alternate forms of revival, as reflected in the stories of this issue. There are those that recover a lost craft or story.
But then there are those that imbue a current way of making with heritage. A third pathway brings past and future alongside each other. Finally, there is the pathway that leads beyond the past.
Underlying all of these paths is the larger story of regeneration. As Antonio Gaudi said, “Originality involves returning to the origin”. Nature follows a cycle of re-birth when life returns to the seed. In the same way, there are times when culture returns to the source, to re-wild, so that ancient stories will take new forms.
Delissa Walker, Genevieve Weber, Helen Ting, Hūfanga Dr. ‘Ōkusitino Māhina, Jules Christian, Kaamya Sharma, Keri-Mei Zagroblena, Kevin Murray, Margarita Sampson, Michele Elliot, Pamela See, Passent Nossair, Rosie Cook, Sera Waters and Tevita ‘O. Ka‘ili.