The Stans – The craft of travel

Janyl Alibekova. Shyrdak maker from Atbashy district. 2004.

Garland #16 will venture to the region that contains the various “stans”, including Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and potentially Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Central Asia is relatively little travelled, compared to the tourist hotspots around it, such as Turkey, Dubai and Thailand. Yet this region has renewed value now thanks to China’s Belt and Road Initiative, which seeks to revive the ancient silk road that transported goods to Europe.

Central Asia has a variety of stunning crafts, particularly weaving, felting, wood carving and metalsmithing. Across the various countries, there are many festivals such as Oimo (Bishkek city, Kyrgyzstan), Silk and Spices Festival (Bukhara, Uzbekistan) and World Games of Nomads (Issyk-kul lake, Kyrchyn natural boundary, Kyrgyzstan). Its cultural traditions are informed by a nomadic lifestyle, reflected in the felted yurt tent and crafts related to horses. Our hope is to launch this issue at the First International Handcrafters Festival, an impressive push to support craft by the new Uzbek government.

With each issue of Garland, we seek to find a theme relevant to the place that can also have universal appeal. In this case, the lifestyle of nomadism complements the experience of travel that has become increasingly popular as a way of engaging with craft. There are a large number of specialist packages offered to encounter unique craft traditions.

The Craft of Travel issue of Garland asks the following questions:

  • How does a nomadic tradition adapt to sedentary urban lifestyles?
  • What are the key elements in a successful craft travel package?
  • How is the experience of exotic crafts in far-flung places reincorporated back into normal life?
  • What is the nature of the exchange between tourist and artisan? Is it purely transactional?

Craft tour directory

As part of our exploration of craft travel, we will include a director of craft tours currently offered. If you have one, please send us the details using this form.

This form collects information for a directory of craft tours that will be published in the September 2019 issue of Garland magazine. Please also upload a horizontal format image at least 1000 px wide here – We will email you when the directory is ready.

The deadline is 5 August. We will publish them in order that we receive them.

Online exhibition

Relative to many other forms of creative expression, craft is profoundly local, drawing on materials at hand as well as the techniques passed down through generations. While many other cultural products can circulate easily around the world, especially in digital form, the handmade is best served close to its origin. This means that our encounter with it often entails travel, sometimes even pilgrimage, to the place of production, whether a legendary urban atelier or a seemingly timeless village workshop.

This online exhibition invites artists to submit work that has been somehow inspired by such a distant encounter.

The online exhibition will consist of a page of images that include:

  1. Work of art
  2. An image of a foreign destination that has been a source of inspiration
  3. A story that connects them

Submissions will be due in 17 August. Submit your details here.