Travelling and teaching in India has been a very stimulating visual and cultural experience. The diverse and rich culture especially the architecture and craft practices have had a lasting impact on me and my approach to making. I had used pattern prior to visiting India and was also very interested in printed fabrics. Now I have a much greater understanding of Indian decorative traditions. My practice is partly diaristic and the impact of spending time in India seeps into my work on occasion.
I have been a jeweller and craft educator for over forty years. In 2004 I visited India for the first time in 2004 to give a jewellery workshop at the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad. It was interesting to participate in the early introduction of jewellery design into the Lifestyle accessories program where the students work in close association with artisans in developing their designs. India is such a diverse culture with a rich and varied tradition of craft, especially, textiles and jewellery.
I am old enough to recall the hippy popularity for Indian clothes and accessories in the 1970’s, when traditional Indian clothes were imported in vast quantities and were colourful and not very expensive. Visiting India in 2004 I was introduced to amazing architecture; I had been unaware of the cool and beautifully carved step wells, and other complex examples of Indian architecture and decorative arts, and their influence on my own English heritage. In the past decade I have noticed an increase in the number of Australian designers and craftspeople who are travelling to India and either working very closely with artisans or buying homewares and fashion from companies established in India that specialise in quality goods utilising traditional craft techniques and materials. Obviously Indian artisans and craftspeople have skills and a decorative tradition which is greatly admired in Australia.
I have been to India again in 2007 and 2010, Ahmedabad has seen massive development since my first visit and graduates from NID have now established jewellery businesses. Craft is a great vehicle for cultural exchange, traditions and techniques vary from region to region. I feel very honoured to participate in the Sangam Project and share in the dialogue between educators and practitioners in Australia and India. This is an ongoing journey. It is very important that globally we share our knowledge and experiences and that skilled craftspeople are acknowledged and receive adequate payment for their work.
I have been fortunate to travel, teach, study and exhibit in Europe, the United States, Korea, Japan, China and India, I am pleased that young graduates are continuing to explore craft traditions in their travels and study also.
Marian Hosking is a jeweller and Senior Lecturer at Monash University. In 2007 her work was exhibited in a national tour at part of the program Living Treasures: Masters of Australian Craft.