Quarterly essays

Quarterly essays are 5,000-word explorations of a particular time and place in the wide world, as told through a handmade object. They are journeys that reveal the ongoing work of culture-makers to give enduring meaning to our world.

putiya makara wingani (can’t stop feeling) - Greg Lehman and Camila Marambio dialogue across the Pacific Ocean about the ancient now in Tasmania and the settler future in Chile.
Batik journeys between the three worlds: Here, there and everywhere - Elly Kent follows the path of batik as a way to explore the complex dynamic of Indonesian culture and to discover a much-needed optimism for our time. 
Moffat Takadiwa: The art of small things - Jenan Taylor returns to her southern African roots, drawn by the mysterious smell of soap, to discover the place where Zimbabwe's iconic sculptor gathers his materials and community.
Objects of wealth, power and love: An inquiry into Chettiar material culture - Mitraja Bais remembers her discovery of the lost work of Chettinads and the poignant tale of loved objects left in their wake.
Dancing with the anvil - Michael Winkler is impressed by the resilience in the USA, emboded in those who continue to work with iron.
The long and winding Silk Road: My quest to uncover treasures from Central Asia - Christina Sumner helped reveal to the world the splendour of Central Asian crafts. Here she retraces her journey as she sought permission to borrow their priceless treasures.
“Drifters” in Jingdezhen: Past meets present in the porcelain capital - Luise Guest listens to ceramic artists who draw on the unique energies of Jingdezhen, including Geng Xue, Liu Jianhua, Juz Kitson and Merran Esson.
Going to hell (and back) in a handbasket… - Tracey Clement re-casts the basket from a symbol of damnation to an icon hope for a city needing handmade attention.
Of Time and the City - Kathryn Bird and Ross Gibson find in Kyoto and beauty borne of skill and care
Daily demons and fabulous animals: In which the author finds her craftswoman but loses her cat 🎓 - Tessa Laird tracks down the maker of her treasured alebrije, a carved animal that embodies the Mexican indigenous belief in the nuhual animal spirit.
Libraries of Stone and Wood - Justy Phillips and Margaret Woodward publish knowledge in rock and wood that reveals a lost Tasmania
Ngurra: Finding our way home - Glenn Iseger-Pilkington finds a sense of home with the Ngaanyatjarra community, grounded and connected through Country.
Embodied history: Remaking and returning the midi to the Tolai 🎧 - In the process of reconstructing the traditional midi necklace, Lisa Hilli finds a deeper understanding of her Tolai culture.
Everything Happens to Everyone: A Rodney Glick story 🎧 - Robert Finlayson visits Rodney Glick, a sculptor who also happens to be a successful cafe entrepreneur in Ubud, Bali. His world contains a unique creative chemistry of Western art and Balinese craft.
Remembering the string figures of Yirrkala - Robyn McKenzie discovers a mysterious trove of books about string figures. To understand their meaning today, she travels to Yirrkala and learns slowly how to create these figures for herself. But it is only by making them into a static art product, through printmaking, that she is able to engage the community. What unfolds is a revelation of thinking through string.
The colonisation of cute – exploring the work of Vipoo Srivilasa - Alice Pung follows in the wake of Thai-born ceramicist Vipoo Srivalasa, seeking to uncover the mystery behind his cute figures.
The world in a chai cup: Sandra Bowkett and a village of Indian potters - Andrew Stephens visits Sandra Bowkett's studio in the central Victorian town of Tallarook and learns about her life-long connection to an Indian potter's village within Delhi. Despite the economic and cultural gulf between the two places, he finds a compelling dialogue about the elemental forces of our world.
A pomegranate’s secret: The jewels of Mehrnoosh Ganji - Sanaz Fotouhi meets Mehrnoosh Ganji, an Iranian migrant making jewellery in Melbourne, inspired by the architecture of Isfahan and the cultural identity she brought with her to a new land.
Objects for an Unknown Future Museum - Sally Simpson's Venerated Remains are powerful evocations of an ancient world, yet one that happens to be from a recent manmade lake returning to its natural state. Kim Mahood finds in Sally's work an important expression of the non-indigenous relation to land, which reflects both the desire for a foundational history and the settler sense of non-belonging.
Reclaiming the Lost Embroidered Garden: The Bagh and Phulkari Embroideries of Punjab - Gopika Nath goes in search of the lost splendour of the phulkari embroidery, whose thread was broken with Partition.
Kirsten Coelho, Large bowl, Still: Kirsten Coelho’s ceramics - Julie Ewington finds stillness at the heart of Kirsten Coelho's centrifugal ceramics.