What we do
Garland is a platform for thoughtful writing about beautiful objects made today across the Indo-Pacific. Launched in 2015, Garland is produced by the World Crafts Council – Australia, a national entity of the World Crafts Council – Asia Pacific.
Garland explores the nexus between East and West through a quarterly online publication and by bringing together writers, artists and carers from across the Indo-Pacific region.
Each quarter, Garland publishes a collection of online articles contributed by a global community of storytellers. As part of our aim to “map” the Indo Pacific region, every issue focuses on a different creative place, themes and stories drawn from that geography, from Iran to Mexico. You can view Garland’s upcoming editorial itinerary here. Garland Quarterly Essays are in-depth narrative features that explore a particular handmade object. Articles are available to read for free on the Garland website, while Quarterly Essays can be unlocked through a Garland subscription.
In addition to the publication, Garland also curates a number of online community resources. Garland Loop is our news page, and features regular updates from individuals and collectives we have featured. Garland Orbit lists major art and crafts events—including festival, fairs and conferences—taking place in our region. And Garland Circle is available for subscribers who receive a monthly email with recent news and opportunities to connect together.
The Garland concept
“Look with favour upon a bold beginning.”
Across the Indo-Pacific, the floral offering is a ubiquitous mark of respect. It welcomes guests, honours individuals, adorns homes and decorates temples. Many Aboriginal communities in Australia offer a branch of eucalyptus leaves as a welcome to country. Such garlands reflect the beauty of local nature and the value of the gift as an exchange that links people, communities and cultures. Garlands are mostly temporary objects, destined to wither and fade in a few days. It’s a subtle reminder that the bearer is not a long-term member of the community, but a guest that will eventually depart. Cross-cultural partnerships depend on recognition of differences as much as similarities.
This magazine uses the garland as a motif to encourage a dialogue across the Indo-Pacific about the objects that give our lives meaning. The world of Garland is populated with individuals who are driven to make something from the place where they are. Garland connects with all cultures of the world.
Many Australians visit and work in creative centres in the region, where they collaborate with local workshops to produce works of enduring beauty. Others remain in Australia to make something of their work, whether it is the verdant lotus ponds of Arnhem Land, flotsam washed up on the wild southern beaches or the street culture of an inner suburb. The publication is based in Australia, which has a Western nation in an Eastern hemisphere provides a space for different cultures to be in dialogue.
Many of the stories follow Australians as they engage with cultures from the Middle East, across Asia to the Pacific coasts of the Americas. They come from a settler nation, bound in Western culture but evolving a cosmopolitan sense of co-existence. They can bring with them a fresh sense of possibilities for creative expression, not beholden to a developmental agenda that presumes the West as the only way forward. As an innocent abroad, the Australian has the potential to connect cultures that may experience historical conflicts.
Craft offers a lingua franca between cultures that is not simply about catching up with Western advances. There is much to learn about the value of the object in different cultures as a way of sustaining meaning across time and space. Embedded in the object is the deep time necessary to master techniques for giving expression to the language of materials. As the object travels from the workshop to the gallery and home, it provides the source of this creativity with the respect and honour that sustains it.
Global trade is not new to craft. Epic trade routes such as the Silk Road enabled craftspersons to sell their works to distant markets. Australians are finding increasing opportunities in Asia through the many biennials and new galleries. While e-commerce promises broad reach internationally, the challenge is to build stories that are unique and credible. Garland will provide a travel guide to the world’s biggest emerging economies. Garland offers a platform for these cultures to see themselves in relation to others. In the long term, we are all mere guests on the earth, facing a common challenge to make something enduring out of that fleeting gift.