Through Indian Eyes: A Hypothetical about Craft, Design, Heritage and Globalisation
Powerhouse Museum, Thursday 1 November, 6pm
There has been much focus on saving the dying art forms in countries like India, where urbanisation is having a dramatic impact on traditional lifestyles. But what if we swap roles? Do we in Australia have skills that are outmoded by technology yet may have another life as a form of creative expression? Is this perpetuating drudgery for the sake of nostalgia or enriching our living cultural heritage?
Join an expert panel who will navigate a curious story about an Indian designer who comes to save an Australian craft. Read: Which dying craft should we save?
Find out MORE.
- Nell Schofield(moderator)
- Jane Burns (ex-Director, Craft Australia)
- Diego Bonetto (Big Fag Press, Sydney)
- Sally Campbell(specialist in Indian textiles, Sydney)
- Lindy Joubert (founding director, UNESCO Observatory)
- Ishan Khosla(designer, India)
- Pawan Luthra (founder, Indialink)
- Christina Sumner (principal curator, Powerhouse Museum)
Should we save a dying craft?
Economic development often comes at a cost. We focus particularly on the need to maintain diversity, not just in nature but also culture. It is predicted that up to 90% of the world’s languages will be extinct by 2100. What about our way of making things? Technology rapidly replaces human skills. Should these be revived, even if they no longer suit their original purpose? Today we value clay pots thrown by hand for their aesthetic value, even when it is far more efficient to produce them in factories. What of other crafts that are being made redundant as we speak?
India is the home to many of the world’s distinct craft traditions. Australians have been going to India for decades to learn about their wonderful techniques, such as weaving and embroidery. Yet much of the craft is in danger. Local markets have been lost to urbanisation and cheap imported goods. Their children prefer careers in business than pursue their ancestral vocation. In response, Westerners often seek to save these crafts by providing alternative markets back home.
These are generous acts, but to be seen as more than the ‘white man’s burden’, we need to look at cultural rescue missions from different perspectives. What is the role of a foreigner in saving another’s culture? Should some ways of life be consigned to the dustbin of history? Can a tradition that is outmoded in one country have a new life in another? Can the recognition of a tradition by a foreign audience instil greater pride within one’s own culture?
‘Through Indian Eyes’ offers a chance to explore these issues through a hypothetical forum in which an Indian designer comes to Australia to save one of our outmoded crafts. This brings together some key voices representing the range of interests involved in such endeavours.