“…in the societies of man the various should be strung together into a garland of unity.”

Rabindranath Tagore, 1925

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Garland is a platform for thoughtful writing about beautiful objects made today across the wider world. It is through these objects that cultures are made, by hand, every day.

As a “platform”, Garland not only publishes quarterly issues. Loop provides timely stories between issues. Orbit lists major events, exhibitions, talks, tours, podcasts and deadlines. A monthly laurel features a beautiful and thoughtful object recently made in our world. We also publish podcast interviews and host live conversations.

While most content is free, exclusive material is available to our Circle of subscribers and contributors. This includes our Quarterly Essays, ebooks and a monthly newsletter with useful and inspiring information about what’s happening in the world of makers. We have also published a hard copy compendium representing our first journey in five volumes.

We aspire to be organic. Our journey is guided by Knowledge Keepers. The questions for each issue are developed by our pathfinders. And articles are gathered by Story Keepers

We encourage “thoughtful writing” that draws on experience. This writing does not recycle received opinions or catchphrases, nor does it “extract” meaning from its subject without giving something back in return. The relationship of the writer to the subject is part of the story. Readers should know where the stories are coming from.

The “beautiful objects” are those considered to be of value. As much as books, objects provide a place for stories that are important to us. Through those objects, we can live with stories in what we see, wear, touch, hear and smell in everyday life.

The “wider world” goes beyond the “developed” realm of formalised spaces such as galleries and universities. It hosts a conversation between different values, frameworks, tribes and identities. Being part of this wider world opens our minds, as well as eyes, ears, noses and hands.

Garland was launched in 2015 as a partner of the World Crafts Council – Australia, a national entity of the World Crafts Council – Asia Pacific. You can view the rest of our itinerary here.

So why “Garland”?

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 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 a recognition of differences as much as similarities.

This magazine uses the garland as a motif to encourage dialogue across the wider world 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. As home to the oldest living cultures, Australians are increasingly influenced by the deep values of respect for Country that are practiced by its First Nations. This encourages respect for other 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. Australia has its problems, but there are many who strive to help make the country play a positive role in the world, as you can tell from the stories they share here.

But Australia is just one of the more than 79 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.

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.

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