Tag Archives: Chile

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What to make of 2014

Master batik artist Tony Dyer with a young Japanese textile student at the Semarang International Batik Festival in May 2013

Master batik artist Tony Dyer with a young Japanese textile student at the Semarang International Batik Festival in May 2013

One of the major events of 2014 will be the Golden Jubilee of the World Crafts Council, which will be held in Dongyan, China, 18-22 October. It will be very interesting to see how the Chinese presidency of WCC uses this unique occasion to promote local craftsmanship. One day ‘Made in China’ may be something that actually adds value to a product.

The China event will be an important occasion to present the Code of Practice for Partnerships in Craft & Design, which has been developed over the past three years of discussions that were part of Sangam: Australia India Design Platform. We’ll be developing a platform based around those standards to promote fair partnerships between producers and developers. This year, the network will extend to Indonesia, with a workshop at Kampoeng Semarang looking particularly at commissioning of batik artists.

One of the important elements that draws me to craft is the way it engages with tradition. While the modern world encourages freedom, it is hard to conceive of a meaningful life without responsibility. Custodianship gives meaning to our otherwise fleeting lives. And craft traditions require skill and imagination if that are to be something we can pass on to future generations. This involves interpreting traditions through current concerns. As they say, we make it new, again.

This is something quite evident to indigenous peoples, whose own culture is vulnerable to colonisation. Retaining language and custom gives purpose and honour to individual lives in indigenous communities.

By contrast, the dominant white Anglo world seems to require little from us in order to flourish. It runs increasingly on automatic, sustained by machines and global corporations. But there are still buried traditions that we can uncover and pass on. Colonisation involved removing the social value from objects, otherwise considered the primitive domain of fetish or idol. The challenge is to recover social objects such as charms, crowns, garlands and heirlooms that offer a hard currency of interconnection.

Amulets from the Sonara Market in Mexico City - how to turn objects of destruction into agents of good?

Amulets from the Sonara Market in Mexico City - how to turn objects of destruction into agents of good?

The project Joyaviva: Live Jewellery across the Pacific travels to Latin America this year. It will be very interesting to see how these audiences respond to the challenge of designing a modern amulet. Can folk traditions transcend their nostalgia and become relevant elements of contemporary life?

The broader questions associated with this will be played out in a series of roundtables as part of the South Ways  project. This will seek to identify creative practices that are unique to the South. The first one in Wellington will look at the relevance of the Maori ‘power object’, or taonga, to Western art practices such as relational jewellery.

Other projects will help tie these threads together. The performance work Kwality Chai will explore what an Indianised Australia might be like. This relates to the utopia of Neverland, in which Australia becomes a haven for cultures that have no home in the world, such as Sri Lankan Tamils.

Craft keeps us alive to the debt we owe to previous generations. I’m very pleased to be involved with Wendy Ger’s Taiwan Ceramics Biennale where many artists have mastered clay as a language for the unique expression of ideas and values.

So there’s much to be made of 2014. Let’s hope this includes a future for 2015 and beyond.

The Joyaviva project – ‘live’ jewellery that changes your world

Joyaviva has recently opened at RMIT Gallery, Melbourne. So begins a journey across the Pacific, to explore how the power of jewellery might be renewed for contemporary challenges.

21 jewellers from Australia, New Zealand and Chile draw from their cultures to create objects that can change our lives. Others will join from Bolivia and Mexico when Joyaviva is in Latin America, and the stories will grow as more people host the charms.

Objects in Joyaviva were created for issues relevant to the jeweller’s world, including recent earthquakes, road deaths, school exams, fertility, managerialism or sheer exuberant sociability. The exhibition combines the charms themselves with documentation of their use, including diaries, photos, videos and drawings.

To find out more, go to www.joyaviva.net, where you will find ways of tracking the journey.

Artists:

  • Australia: Roseanne Bartley, Melissa Cameron & Jill Hermans, Caz Guiney, Jin ah Jo, Blanche Tilden, Alice Whish
  • New Zealand: Jacqui Chan, Ilse-Marie Erl, Sarah Read, Gina Ropiha, Areta Wilkinson, Matthew Wilson, Kathryn Yeats
  • Chile: Guillermina Atunez, Francisco Ceppi, Analya Cespedes, Carolina Hornauer, Massiel Mariel, Angela Cura Mendez, Valentina Rosenthal, WALKA STUDIO

The exhibition is at RMIT Gallery until 24 March. Make a wish…

Welcome to Valparaíso

A soldier is welcomed back home (scene from Valparaiso workshop)

A soldier is welcomed back home (scene from Valparaiso workshop)

In recent times, the University of Valparaíso has proven a great place to prove new ideas. The students tend to be quite idealistic and their experience with the teacher Patricia Gunther has exposed them to value of regional folk culture. The workshops have all focused on the life of objects. Previously we’ve explored designing objects inspired by the queca dance, drawing on the power of the ‘cosita’ (the little thing) and creating charms in response to the earthquake (this led to the exhibition Southern Charms).

This year, the workshop followed from the Welcome Signs exhibition to consider how objects of welcome might be designed to deal with specific situations. About 46 students formed groups to determine their target context, design the object and then perform its presentation.

The situations chosen were reasonably familiar ones, such as entering university or greeting tourists. But the objects they developed were quite novel, and looked at how to realise local Valparaíso culture in material form. For example, one plate was designed for use at a ritual of ‘once’ (afternoon tea) and contained papa-pletos (buns filled with fried potatoes) for sharing with a newcomer from the south of Chile.

But what stood out particularly were the performances. This seemed a particularly dynamic way for groups to work together on social design. One especially dramatic moment was acted out as the scene of a soldier who was welcomed back by his family. He was garlanded with a ‘mock chain’ expressing the family’s wish that he stay. But distraught at his inevitable return to service, the soldier threw down the metal garlanded but pocketed the heart adorned it.

This workshop was a promising start, but I felt it could be taken further by exploring less obvious situations. There are many common contexts in modern life where a small individual sign of welcome could make a big difference, such as going into hospital for surgery or moving into a new neighbourhood.

But the challenge at the end was how to channel the students’ idealism for a more welcoming world in a way that would survive the inevitable stresses of modern life. Give a couple more years of education and we’ll see what they can come up with.

The world needs your luck

Southern Charms: New Power Jewellery across the Pacific

Call for Expressions of Interest

How do we make luck where it is needed today?

Southern Charms is an exhibition of ‘power jewellery’ that demonstrates the relevance of objects to hopes and fears. It includes work designed by jewellers, designers and artists from Australia, New Zealand, Chile and Bolivia.

The exhibition will open at RMIT Gallery in February 2012. You are invited to submit an EOI, due by 4 December 2010. Please download the EOI details from here (or Spanish version). For more information about the project, visit www.craftunbound.net/projects/southern-charms.

‘Shaky’ start for charm schools in Chile

The Southern Charms project had a ‘shaky’ start in Chile. The workshops were very popular and produced wonderful new forms of power jewellery, but the recent tragedy of the earthquake was a dominant theme.

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The Valparaiso ‘clinic’ attracted around 100 participants, thanks to the good work of Professor Patty Gunther, who has been leading innovative programs in social design at the Universidad de Valparaiso. With such a number, I was very grateful for the assistance of local jewellers Omar Luengo and Nicholás Hernández.

Omar Lunego talking to participants

Omar Lunego talking to participants

Our task was to identify problems that required something more than a simple practical solution to be resolved, and then to design objects that might fill that void. Patty had provided boxes of the fragments left after the earthquake had destroyed so many precious things. How to turn this destruction into beautiful jewellery was a subtext of this workshop.

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The workshop addressed this with great gusto and overnight amazingly well-formulated objects emerged. As usual with Valparaiso, the tenor was idealistic: broad problems were identified such as loneliness and environmental change. The results tended to take the form of objects that could be broken up, with the parts distributed to people who would then have a point of contact with each other. One of the pieces responding to the threat of tsunami used the Mapuche myth of the sea serpent tren tren to great effect.

Santiago Charm School

Santiago Charm School

The Santiago ‘escuela de encanto’ was more specialised in jewellery. The workshop was organised by local jewellers Francisco Ceppi and Valentina Rosenthal and took place at the Museo Bellas Artes, the august national art gallery. Participants included 34 of the city’s top jewellers. Their problems were more concrete than those at Valparaiso, including the job interview, school examination, chemotherapy and overseas student exchange. Earthquake related problems included the emergency bag kept by the door and protection for the house. Over two intense days, groups developed designs for objects to help us cope with these challenges. The charm for examination was based on the tradition of the torpedo, where students insert a scroll of formulae into their pens to help get the right answers – though in this case the paper contained messages of encouragement. The charm for chemotherapy used the very plastic tubing that makes this procedure so uncomfortable, transforming this into a colourful bracelet form. What worked particularly well were the performances, where groups enacted the power of their objects.

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We all learned a great deal from these workshops. We learned how important it was to have a tradition on which to build – something that provides ‘roots’ for the object. And the performances revealed the choreography of giving that helps charge the object with its ‘power’.

The seed has been sown. We’ll see what results from this when the Southern Charms exhibition arises next year, hopefully now touring back to Chile. The present challenge is to extend the Latin American component to include Bolivia, with its global voice on climate change. But more immediately we have the workshops looming in Sydney and Melbourne. The focus on earthquake in Chile could have an interesting echo with the issue of bushfires in Victoria. Both challenges demand more than just technological responses, they require contexts in which people can come together, rather than fend for themselves.

  • For updates on the Southern Charms project, tune into #charm101 on twitter.
  • Visit the Santiago blog here.
  • Bookings for the Melbourne Charm School here.
The scene directly outside the Museo Bellas Artes where something was always happening.

The scene directly outside the Museo Bellas Artes where something was always happening.

Upcoming Charm Schools

‘Luck is believing you’re lucky.’
Tennessee Williams

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Luck is not something that sits well with a modern way of life. Modernity is largely defined against superstitious practices of the past. Magical folk remedies have been replaced by far more reliable medical science. We no longer make sacrifices to rain gods; we have more responsible water restrictions instead. The only official acknowledgement of luck lies in the growing gambling industry on which local governments have become increasingly dependent.

So does luck still have a place in modern life? Are there occasions when we can still wish someone ‘good luck’ without appearing to be nostalgic for a more mystical past? Does carrying a lucky charm that someone has given you make any real difference to your life?

How might charms demonstrate the things that really matter to us? What might be the role of jewellery as counterbalance to the quantification of friendship in online networks like Facebook?

Towards the exhibition Southern Charms is a series of workshops to explore how to reconnect with the tradition of ‘power jewellery’ such as charms, amulets and talismans. The workshops will explore the culture of fortune:

  • its role in the history of the contemporary jewellery movement
  • its ‘social design’ elements, such as gift-giving and care
  • its potential in responding to the pressing demands in personal and public life

This workshop reviews the function of charms, particularly in jewellery, and considers their potential uses today. Participants will be able to develop new designs and test them out.

Related articles

Share your charms

Southern Charms: New Power Jewellery Across the Pacific

Exhibition in development

Announcing a project to reveal new developments in ‘power jewellery’ that bring together craft cultures across the Pacific ocean. ‘Power jewellery’ claims to not only to be an object of beauty, but also to have an effect on its wearer. Most commonly, it protects the wearer against ill fortune. While traditionally this has been associated with superstitions, such as the evil eye, in this case the ‘power’ is understood as the strength that is sustained through social relations, such as friendship, solidarity or hospitality. The project is to explore ways of re-casting traditional forms of the charm for a modern secular world.

The net is cast across the Pacific, including Anglo cultures in Australasia, Aboriginal indigenous jewellery, Pacific islander ornament and charms from the Andean cultures on the Pacific’s eastern edge.

As well as providing new tools for social support, the Southern Charms project also aims to foster new conversations and networks across the Pacific. You can find out more at www.craftunbound.net/projects/southern-charms.

For expressions of interest, please contact Kevin Murray by email at charm(at)craftunbound.net. At this stage, examples of work are most welcome. Please note, the works will include charms that are designed to be used by others, rather than purely personal reflections on culture. An important question to consider is how their power be released into the world. The exhibition is planned to open in 2012.

Future events:

  • Workshop in Santiago, Chile (May 2010)
  • Workshop with the Melbourne State of Design Festival (July 2010)
  • Grass to Gold jewellery conference in Delhi (Feb 2011)
  • Workshops in Pacific (TBC)

Subscribe to Craft Unbound updates to be notified of future posts on the charmed theme.

Taking Chilean pride to heart

The jewellery scene in Chile has been growing strongly in recent years. A large number of new outlets for art and designer jewellery have opened in Santiago, including work that draws from distinctively Chilean forms, such as the horse-hair weaving known as crin.

Corazón de Loica

Corazón de Loica

Marcela Bugueiro

Marcela Bugueiro

At the end of 2009, Chile held its first national jewellery competition. Organised by Galeria Ceppi, this competition took its context from the Bicentenary of Chilean independence. The inaugural winner was an established jeweller based in Concepción, down south. Marcela Bugueiro won with Corazón de Loica (Heart of Loica) including particularly Chilean elements, including feathers of the Loica bird and lapiz lazuli. Here is her statement about the work:

Throughout these 200 years, Chileans have travelled a unique and special path. This represents 200 years of love for the land in which we were born, grow and live. So how does a piece of jewellery reflect the importance of our mother land and the identity that we have forged from it? From this arises the idea of a reliquary, containing within itself a portion of our land, stressing its value and importance to us who have lived there already for 200 years. The bicentennial demands a homage piece adequate to the occasion. This evokes the image of a Chilean woman who carries on her chest this tribute to our country with pride and as a token of our country’s identity. The identity, the heart of Chile, is reflected in the traditional Chilean legend of the red Loica bird, and how chest of this little bird became red due to its nobility and generosity. This work is jewel is inspired by our people, in the nature of our earth and the elements that we draw from it, such as silver, copper and lapis lazuli. We find a piece that combines these elements to represent the noble heart of Chile and the sacredness of our land, in thanks for 200 years of support.

How did you become interested in jewellery?

Travelling and meeting places and experienced jewellers. I am captivated by the beauty of the stones and bright metals and their infinite combinations. I consider items of jewellery almost magical elements that remind us of the wonders that are within the earth. I think of each gem as representing someone in particular. That’s why do I care about individual pieces, rather than jewellery made in series.

Where do you get the skills in jewellery?

I started over 20 years ago, doing the finishing work for jewellery in a family workshop. At my first school, you received the raw piece, which you filed, sanded and polished until you could see an object that is lustrous and full of beauty, often crowned with gems of extraordinary brightness and colour. Then I developed on my own with endless hours in the workshop where I discovered how the metal could be adapted to the forms that would emerge in my designs. I also sought to learn from experienced jewellers who allowed me to observe and work with them so I could mix craft jewellery techniques with other more classic styles.

Now, where to sell or display your jewellery?

Joyería Bugueiro is in the center of the city of Concepcion in southern Chile. You can see pictures at www.marcelabugueiro.cl

What are your three main influences on jewellery?

    1. The ancient jewellery that joined symbols and stones, from cultures like the Egyptian, Mayan, Incas, Etruscan
    2. Importantly, Rene Lalique, (European jeweller early 20th century) with its organic beauty and delicate lines and magic,
    3. and now the Japanese design for its extraordinary success in simplicity and harmony of forms.

What is most important to you: to find a market, to search for beauty, to fit the body, or to make a statement about the world?

If only they could all be combined … It’s important to me to make jewellery of excellent quality, which reflects the mark of the author, a person. I prefer that the result is beautiful, although I am open to admire other forms of aesthetic beauty beyond the obvious. 

How would you like to develop your career further?

Marcela Bugueiro

Marcela Bugueiro

To promote the development of jewellery design in the region where I live, through personal achievements as well as joining with other goldsmiths to create a core of identity making jewellery from southern Chile. My intention is to achieve a balance between sustainability needed in my shop-showroom and the development of a clear artistic practice, where you can take advantage of opportunities and present my designs in international fairs (I have been invited to "KARA Exhibition" in Paris, however for economic reasons is a difficult project to do). I wish I could have more time to create unique designs. a good way to combine sustainability with design and art could be to create a line of cufflinks (W Hotels in Santiago have sought an order from me)… "Business versus art" a complex formula.

Jewellery is a particularly important medium for countries like Chile and Australia that are faced with the challenge of finding their own identity. While European traditions of ornament favour precious metals and stones, such as gold and diamonds, it’s ex-colonies look to privilege elements unique to their world. In Australia, German modernism played an important role in wiping the slate clean of tradition. It’s fascinating to see how Chile engages in this common quest.

Loica bird

Loica bird

UNESCO workshop for Artisans and Designers – who owns culture?

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The UNESCO Workshop for Artisans and Designers in Santiago brought together participants from Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Paraguay, Colombia and Brazil. For three days, we discussed the ethics of the relationship between those who make craft products and those who develop them for markets. It was a fascinating workshop for many reasons.

First, it was interesting to witness the manner in which people of diverse views come together like this in Latin America. It was very smoothly and warmly facilitated by Rafael del Campo, who used a ‘world café’ method to ensure everyone had a chance to contribute to discussions. Celina Rodriquez from Universidad Catolica helped ensure the program had a warm welcome from local artisan communities. Generally, the event was framed as a celebration of the way artisans and designers can complement each other. The participating artisans spoke very positively about the way designers enabled their careers to develop. The Chilean wood carver Hector Bascuñan described the designer that he collaborated with as an ‘angel’. But there was still plenty of opportunity to consider the tensions that exist in this relationship.

One burning issue was the ownership of intellectual property. I contributed to this inadvertedly by presenting the example of Better World Arts, the Australian organisation that brokers designs from the Kaltjiti community in the desert centre with artisans in the Kashmir and Peru, who translate their designs into rugs and jewellery. This was quite a surprising arrangement to those present. It challenged the implicit assumption that artisans can properly only make works that draw from their own culture. Much had to be explained about the Australian scene, how we lack those that might be called traditional artisans, and how it is difficult for indigenous communities to meet the demand for craft products within their own resources. It helped stimulate some very interesting discussions.

There were many who saw transnational craft as a way of the future. In the global craft ecology, continents like Latin America have the potential to provide the handmade dimension to various foreign creative industries, like product development and fashion – handbags handwoven in Bolivia, for example. But there are serious risks. In attaching the handmade component as an exotic feature, do we trivialise craft? Shouldn’t we consider craft as a whole, as the expression of culture in its own terms? But then if Bolivian artisans decide to accept a commission like this in order to simply survive, can anyone stop them?

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I believe in the power of cultural exogamy. There are many examples of cultural exchange that strengthen tradition. Tango was only really acknowledged in Argentina once it was ‘discovered’ in Paris. It has since been adopted by cultures all around the world, with its own distinctive Scandinavian, Slavic and Japanese versions. Despite this diffusion, Buenos Aires is still revered as the home of tango.

Can the same occur in craft? There are powerful examples, like ikat weaving, raku ceramics, Venetian glass, where its adoption by other cultures has strengthened the status of its point of origin. Seeing our own cultural techniques applied in foreign contexts helps not only demonstrate their potency, but also helps identify what is distinctive to ourselves. Seeing how Australians apply raku techniques shows its potency as an expression of place but also reveals by contrast what is different about the original Japanese version

The critical issue seems to be not one of contamination, but of commodification. Capitalist production does tend to appropriate cultural signs, decontextualise them, and then sell them for the biggest profit. When purchasing products, consumers are encouraged to consider brand identity rather than its point of origin. Given the powerful capitalist neighbour to the north, it is natural you can find in Latin America a defensive position towards cultural appropriation. Rightly so. Contrast the culture of Coca Cola with its indigenous origins in the Andes. But maybe there are other kinds of partnerships beyond cultural predation.

It is here where the issue of moral rights for producers seems to play a potentially important role. So often products that feature artisan origins fail to identify exactly who made the product. We have a system of moral rights for creators to ensure that when works of art or design are copied that the author is attributed. But this doesn’t exist for producers, even if their role is critical in development.

This is not a simple issue, as was made evident during the workshop. Two participants objected to the principle of individual attribution. The Brazilian designer José Alberto Nemer from Piracema Design Laboratory presented a notion of development as a romantic engagement with place which goes beyond self-conscious individual creativity. Piraceme is a native Tupi word to describe the phenomenon when fish return to their point of origin in order to spawn. This spirit of place should belong to no one individual. For different reasons, Pablo Bonaparte from the National Market of Traditional Artisans in Argentina also argued against individual ownership. For him, craft traditions are a communal entity and any attempt to sell this on the open market for individual gain would be a kind of betrayal.

While these were not the views of the majority, they were important points to consider. For Australians, this concept of collective ownership resonates with our acknowledgement that indigenous culture is a matter of custodianship. No one individual owns the designs or knowledge of Aboriginal communities. But there is a difference. Within limits, we also acknowledge the freedom of any individual indigenous artist to employ their designs as they see fit – even if woven in another country. Any attempt to resist that on the grounds of heritage would seem patriarchal, motivated more by whitefella romance that indigenous realities.

The UNESCO representative Frederic Vacheron reflected on this tension between communal heritage and individual creativity. Protection exists for both cultural heritage and individual copyright, but they can sometimes be in opposition to each other. Vacheron was confident that they could eventually be aligned, but it would take more than one workshop to do so.

In his concluding comments, Vacheron said that it was important to consider patrimony a living phenomenon, not something that needs to be isolated from the world for its survival. He said it was important to look at what was happening in Australia as an example of how traditional craft practices might find new opportunities in a globalised world. Likewise, we in Australia need to consider the Latin American views if we are to draw on their traditions to revitalise our own culture.

Along with many nations in the ‘collective west’, Australia is on a return journey back from dizzy heights of globalisation to its own piece of solid ground. As our craft skills decline, we become more dependent on artisans in other countries to provide the handmade quality that helps realise the human dimension in our designs. But can we outsource craft in the same way we have our shirts sewn anonymously in China? For the handmade to have meaning it needs a real connection with its maker. We need to know something about who made it, where their skill comes from, what they benefit in making it, and how they would like us to care for their result.

In getting to know artisans better, we can also discover something about ourselves too. What is the status of indigenous culture in their politics? How do they deal with the challenges of climate change? In what way do they respond to the cultural dominance of the north?

I certainly got to know the Latin American journey(s) a little better after this workshop. The status of being a ‘third world’ creates a sense of vulnerability to the more powerful economies particularly to the north. To northern economies, local cultural traditions are often seen as signs of backwardness. Many in Latin America thus try to present an alternative measure of value. For them, a sense of one’s own culture is more precious than the flows of capital that course through world markets. An organisations like UNESCO, which recognise the value of cultural diversity, are held in particularly high regard here. Nevertheless, financial poverty brings its own problems. So how can culture be aligned with the needs of the market without destroying its value?

It’s plain that we need to work together if we are to use globalisation as a force for good, not evil. As Jean-Jacques Rousseau said, ‘If you cannot prevent your enemies from swallowing you, at least you can prevent them from digesting you.’  So it is with cultural appropriation. It will happen. It has the capacity to aerate and enrich our cultural traditions. But we need to be prepared to prevent it also dissolving embodied cultural meanings into mere products for consumption. The workshop was a very encouraging first step in this preparation, but there is much work ahead.

We need now to invite other voices into this conversation, particularly from Africa and Asia. UNESCO is in the unique position to carry this dialogue further. But there are others, like the World Craft Council and International Design Alliance (particularly the Indigo project), who can play an important role. The workshop next month in Fiji is another step towards extending this dialogue. Throughout this process, the development of an international code of practice for craft-design collaborations is one concrete way to ensure we keep talking with each other.

Horse hair – the new Chilean gold

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Crin is one of Chile’s most distinctive folk crafts. In markets around the country you will find delicate forms, often taking the shape of insects, woven out of dyed horsehair. Despite its distribution around the country, almost all Crin originates from a small town called Rari.

Crin appeared mysteriously around 200 years ago, as local women found they could weave poplar roots into figures. After discovering the flexibility of horse hair they combined a Mexican plant fibre Ixtle which provided structural strength. It’s not clear why this technique emerged there in particular, but the town’s proximity to a spa resort meant that there was a ready market for cositas (little things).

Crin is made entirely by hand. No equipment is involved, even knitting needles. But unlike the chunky results of finger-knitting, crin is exquisitely fine.

As a folk craft, crin was rarely taken seriously. However, it is now finding a niche as a versatile, colourful and particularly Chilean component in the burgeoning new jewellery scene in Chile. But its recent success comes with complications.

Women crin weavers from Rari

Women crin weavers from Rari

Women crin weavers from Rari

A Santiago architect Paula Leal has been exploring ways of collaborating with artisans from Rari. An earlier attempt with weaver Alba Sepúlveda led to the award for the 2008 UNESCO Seal of Excellence for Handicraft Products. The product incorporated modernist forms of crin into a hair clasp.

But the business of incorporating crin into jewellery is actually quite a political issue. In some ways, it parallels the movement of New Zealand jewellers who sought to include local materials and techniques such as jade carving into their work. In some cases, this meant reviving some of the lost Indigenous skills, while at the same time not simply imitating traditional Maori culture.

In the case of Chile, it is still the case that you can’t incorporate crin into your work without the willing cooperation of an artisan. It seems the nature of Chilean society that local skills are not easily generalisable. It would be extremely rare for someone in Santiago to teach themselves how to weave with crin. This division of labour creates an asymmetry, particular in the relative prices of crin sold in markets and jewellery featuring crin in fashionable jewellery boutiques.

Even for someone who has achieved success such as Paula, this can be difficult. She had to find some new crin weavers when her previous collaborator broke the partnership. Apparently, she felt resentment that she was sharing the stage with a designer who didn’t actually make anything herself.

Manuela Tromben and Paula Leal

Manuela Tromben and Paula Leal

Manuela Tromben and Paula Leal

Recently, Paula Leal formed a partnership with fellow architect Manuela Tromben in the development of an exhibition devoted to crin. Orígenes Y Atuendos Imaginarios (Origins and Imaginary Outfits) included jewellery and wall work that manipulated elements of traditional crin to create new works. For instance, the cylindrical form that normally is coiled to form the body of a snail was uncoiled and introduced into a necklace form. Local jewellers Walka Studio added the silver attachments.

Orígenes Y Atuendos Imaginarios installation

Orígenes Y Atuendos Imaginarios installation

Orígenes Y Atuendos Imaginarios installation

Crin has a long way to go. There’s potential for much experimentation. It seems inevitable that someone in Santiago will eventually learn to make it themselves. But I hope that doesn’t exclude the possibility that some of the women from Rari might themselves engage actively with product development.

But here, on the other side of the Pacific, a recent exhibition in Melbourne shows an alternative path. Vicky Shukuroglou recently completed her Masters in Gold and Silversmithing. Vicky had previously taken a South Project residency in Brazil and was interested in weaving with alternative materials. While at RMIT she had furthered her manipulation of horse hair to create extremely delicate woven structures.

Vicky Shukuroglou object [PW] steel wire, horse hair 60 x 90mm

Vicky Shukuroglou object [PW] steel wire, horse hair 60 x 90mm

steel wire, horse hair

Vicky Shukuroglou object [BHH] steel wire, horse hair [double bass bow] 150 x 130 x 130mm [variable]

Vicky Shukuroglou object [BHH] steel wire, horse hair [double bass bow] 150 x 130 x 130mm [variable]

steel wire, horse hair

Vicky’s objects are designed deliberately to appear insubstantial. They certainly are not made to function as jewellery, lacking solid form and metal clasps. But as such, they might seem to be true to the wispy material itself, allowing it to unravel freely. Some are likely to worry that she is taking the object out of the normal circuits of exchange that connect it with people’s lives – it can only live on a plinth. Is this a possible path in Chile?

In all, what’s happening with crin tells a story similar to other crafts across the South. Part of the post-colonial process involves coming to terms with the immediate world around us. This means not always looking North for what’s precious, but learning in how to find the beauty in what is at hand.

That process has barely begun.