Support is needed to commission an Australian-Iranian writer to reflect on the contribution that Iranians are making to Australian culture. This essay is for a special issue of Garland magazine that will be launched at the World Crafts Council General Assembly in Isfahan, 24 September 2016. The magazine will include articles about the incredible Iranian craft traditions that are thriving today, as well as Iranian-Australian artists who have interpreted these traditions in a Western context.
Sanctions are being lifted against Iran and there are strong signs of an increasing openness in their culture. This issue has the potential to play a role in establishing positive relations between Iran and the West. We have already seen how Australian artists and designers have been able to work collaboratively with cultures in our region, such as India. As it opens up, Iran welcomes exchange with foreign artists and designers. The cultural sensibilities of Australians makes us well suited to develop these partnerships.
The World Crafts Council is a critical network for connecting cultures through mutual respect for their craft traditions. The General Assembly is an event that happens every four years when craftspersons gather from around the world to express solidarity. Australia has played a positive role in this network since its inception in 1964. Garland is the magazine of World Crafts Council – Australia and is its platform for telling stories about the beautiful objects being made in our region. Garland is a symbol of welcome and a form of everyday adornment found throughout our region, in Buddhist, Hindu, Islamic and Pacific cultures.
The Iran issue will include articles about the Persian carpet industry in Tabriz, turqouise jewellery in Mashhad, new jewellery coming from Tehran and the charms of ceramics from the pottery town of Lalejin. We will include an online exhibition with artists from Iran and the diaspora, so we can see a wide survey of its creativity. We will also feature profiles of artists of Iranian background in Australia. It will be online and so accessible to an Iranian audience. We will have special hard copy editions of the commissioned essay, which are hand-decorated by Iranian artists in Australia.
Since the closure of Craft Australia, there has been no support for a national platform of craft in Australia. It is sad that one of the wealthiest countries of the world is slipping behind other countries in promoting its craft skills. This is especially important as Australia is moving out the mining boom, and seeks to diversity is productive capacities. World Crafts Council – Australia has been established by people dedicated to our crafts who are committed to ensuring that we can proudly uphold this part of our culture, and promote international exchanges with our region.
Your support for our Iran issue will play an important role in realising the great potential Australia has as a multicultural nation.