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Garland is a platform for thoughtful writing about beautiful objects made today across the Indo-Pacific. Launched in 2015, Garland is a partner of the World Crafts Council – Australia, a national entity of the World Crafts Council – Asia Pacific.

There is more to the world. If we open our eyes, we can see the wonderful stories embedded in objects made with care and creativity. But we have to expand our understanding beyond the narratives that dominate our world, such as progress, technological development and originality.

The Garland journey involves opening our eyes to the variety of values found in crafted objects. The first phase involves mapping the Indo-Pacific world with help of writers, artists, makers and carers. In collaboration with the help of local partners, we develop themes and stories from the wider world—from South Africa to Mexico. You can view Garland’s 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 Garland’s subscribers can unlock the Quarterly Essays as well as the ebook versions and our monthly Circle newsletter. We also publish a hard copy compendium with a sample of each year’s articles.

We are currently developing Garland 2.0, where culture-makers can work together. This involves unlocking important questions that give meaning to what we make. What responsibility do humans have towards nature? How can different cultures connect? Why do we need objects?

In addition to the publication, Garland also curates a number of online community resources. Garland Loop is our news page; it features regular updates from individuals and collectives. Garland Orbit lists major art and crafts events—including festival, fairs and conferences—taking place in our region. We have a monthly laurel dedicated to a beautiful and thoughtful object recently made in our world.

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 gestures 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 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 live. Garland connects with all cultures of the world through an Indo-Pacific lens.

Garland is based in Australia, which as a Western nation in an Eastern hemisphere offers a space to connect different cultures. 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. But Australia is just one of the more than 52 countries where our writers are based. We offer Garland as a space for the region as a whole to connect.

Craft offers a lingua franca between cultures. It sits outside the developmental narrative, which is mostly about catching up with the West. 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 nurtures the source of this creativity with the respect and honour that sustains it.

De-globalisation has seen the emergence of new walls, bolstered by the “My Country First” principle. But the benefits of self-interest are short-term. Our worlds are interwoven. Learning about other cultures helps us better understand our own. And as climate change shows us, we ultimately share the planet as a common home.

Let’s build doors, not walls!

Global trade is not new to craft. Epic trade routes such as the Silk Road enabled craftspersons to sell their works to distant markets. While e-commerce promises broad reach internationally, the challenge is to build stories that are unique and credible. Garland invites you on a journey to the wider world, following a trail of beautiful objects. Garland offers a platform for these cultures to see themselves in relation to others: together, we can be different.

In the long term, we are all mere guests on the earth, facing a common challenge to make something enduring out of this fleeting gift.

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