Who are the craft masters of our region?

Australian Living Treasure, silversmith Marian Hosking

A successful craft nation depends on those who have fulfilled a successful career and are able to pass on their skills and knowledge to the next generation. A program to recognise these “masters” aims to support these senior makers as models to which younger makers can aspire. This recognition offers a base on which to build support for the mentorship of those who are early in their career.

There are so many ways we celebrate our master sportsmen and women, as well as film actors. It’s important we also recognise those whose beautiful and skillfully made works will be enjoyed by future generations.

World Crafts Council Asia Pacific is calling for applications from the South Pacific sub-region to the Craft Master Program. The aim is to recognise and honour masters in their chosen craft form.

Initiated in 2008, the Asia Pacific Region Craft Master program has organized three evaluations respectively in 2008, 2012 and 2016. It is organized every 4 years. Due to the pandemic, the 4th evaluation has been postponed to the year of 2023.

This program was proposed to

  1. honour the craftspeople who have made outstanding contributions to the development of crafts in the region, and to promote their social status in local society
  2. to provide opportunities for craftspeople from different countries of the region to exchange ideas and experiences, and to enhance international awareness of craft tradition in the Asia Pacific Region
  3. to encourage more talented people to join in the work of passing on, promoting, and developing the handicraft tradition in the region.

Qualifications of applicants

  • Handicrafts practitioner
  • The person must have a minimum of 30-year experience in handicrafts production
  • Applicants must be above the age of 50 (including 50), are still able to create and teach artworks

Judging criteria

  • Applicant must be an experienced and accomplished craft practitioner.  
  • Applicant made excellent achievements and earned a high reputation at home and abroad. 
  • Applicant’s work/s must have been acknowledged and received awards for works in national craft competitions or exhibitions. 
  • Applicant’s work/s must have been selected to be displayed in national-level museums and galleries or at international exhibitions. 
  • Applicant must show proof of teaching and training the skills of their craft.

60 finalists from the Asia Pacific Region will be nominated by their respective regions (10 from our region the South Pacific) and 30 finalists will be flown to Donyang China for the Awards Ceremony. Applications for consideration by the Jury are due by 5 April 2023. A jury will be formed comprising suitably qualified experts to select ten finalists.

China will host accommodation and airfares for 30 masters to Dongyang, China plus several artworks and necessary tools submitted for final evaluation for the awards ceremony. Selected artists are requested to do some live demonstrations (details worked out following selection). Invitations will go out by April 16 for a ceremony in early June.

You can find the form here.

Enquiries to Lindy Joubert or Jude van der Merwe

27. February 2023
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WoCCA Craft Cooee: Contemporary jewellery in Australasia on 11 April

Join the board of the World Crafts Council – Australia to hear from the organisers of three major events that build and maintain community in the contemporary jewellery field. New Zealand’s Nelson Jewellery week organisers will speak alongside Australian speakers from JMGA WA (Jewellers and Metalsmiths Group) and Radiant Pavilion about the aims, logistics and outcomes of pulling together these important large-scale events.


  • Chloe Powell – Radiant Pavilion
  • Kay van Dyk and Katie Pascoe – Nelson Jewellery Week 
  • Robin Wells and Claire Townsend – JMGA WA conference

Tuesday 11 April 6-7pm (AEST)

Register on Zoom here.

20. February 2023
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Heart, Head and Hand – the 21st century premiere

Join us to celebrate the recovery of a precious moment in Australian craft history.

In the late 1970s, the Crafts Council of Australia commissioned a series of extraordinary short films about Australian craftspersons. These included leading directors of the time, such as Peter Weir and Gillian Armstrong. These are currently stored in the National Film and Sound Archive. World Crafts Council – Australia is seeking your support to help digitise these so they can be seen by us today and for future generations. These films are a powerful testament to the value of craft in Australian culture.

“Heart, Head and Hand” (1979) is 20-minute documentary featuring scenes from the life and work of potter Peter Rushforth. “This film shows how Rushforth’s philosophy and strong belief in craft as a way of life has reached all those with whom he had been in contact, and the respect and admiration in which he is held both personally and professionally by students, colleagues and friends.”

The screening will be followed by a discussion including Janet DeBoos, who features in the film.  

Join us to witness the recovery of this magical history and help support our craft heritage.

17. October 2022
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WoCCA conversation: Putting craft on the map

As part of the Australian Craft Map project, we crowdsourced nearly 300 different craft associations throughout the country. The next phase is to make this map accessible so that anyone can know where they can find local and beautiful craft.

In our next WoCCA Conversation, we will launch our first Google Map: Australian Craft Destinations. But this is only one part of the process. For the benefits of this map to be realised, craft galleries, workshops and retail outlets need to ensure that they have an entry in Google Maps. Once this entry is made, it is not only a way for the craft destination to be found, it can also be a way for visitors to share their experiences.

The conversation will be led by WoCCA’s map expert, Sandra Simmons. We will also hear from a variety of enterprises across the country about their experience in managing their Google Maps entry.

Let’s rise up. It’s time for craft to be visible.

Tuesday 6 September 2022, 17:00 (AEST)

Zoom registration:  https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZIvceCtqDIpE9Oa8JSNtmJ-Q9hp7-S8Gjqy

08. August 2022
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WoCCA July Conversation – How can we preserve our future heirlooms?

Marian Hosking, Crest, 2013, Stirling silver, Image courtesy of the artist, National Gallery of Victoria collection

Join a discussion with those responsible for the important collections that ensure our wonderful craft works are enjoyed by future generations. We consider key questions:

  • What are the criteria for acquisitions?
  • What kinds of craft is of interest and value for particular collections?
  • What are the challenges faced by a curator involved in collecting craft?
  • Which acquisitions are you particularly proud of?
  • How can craft organisations promote and encourage the collecting of craft?
  • What impact does the acquisition have on the artist?

Presenters include:

  • Eva Czernis-Rhyl, Powerhouse Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (NSW)
  • Tarun Nagesh, QAGOMA (QLD)
  • Mel George, Bulabula Arts Centre (NT)
  • Philip Clarke, Blumhardt Fund (NZ)
  • Rebecca Edwards, National Gallery of Australia (ACT)
  • Claire Liersch, Shepparton Art Museum (VIC)
  • Sue Lostroh, Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery (QLD)
  • Peter Hughes, Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (TAS)
  • Bin Dixon-Ward, Bluestone Collection (VIC)

Time: 26 July 2022 at 5pm (AEST) see link for time where you are.

Zoom registration link

Every two months, we seek views on the state of craft in Australia, including international exchanges. The conversation is rounded off with a cooee around the states to hear of recent news, events, projects, exhibitions and issues. This is a one-hour Zoom event open to WoCCA members through a registration link sent in our email newsletter.

30. June 2022
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Craft Cooee – Wood in Australia

Collaborators Damien Wright and Bonhula Yunipingu

Join the World Crafts Council – Australia board for a conversation about wood. We are blessed by some of the most beautiful timbers in the world. What we make of this gift is a sign of our national identity.

Australia has an incredibly wide range of wood crafts, including Aboriginal carving, fine woodworking, sculpture, guitar-making and boat building. Let’s think about how we might link all this together.

Speakers include Andrew Carvolth (JamFactory), Ashley Ericksmoen (ANU), Damien Wright (pictured above with Yolngu collaborator Bonhula Yunipingu), Andrew Denman (Tasmanian boatbuilder) and Linda Nathan (Australian Wood Review).  The host is WoCCA board mamber Niklavs Rubenis (Uni Tas).

Tuesday 31 May 2023 at 5pm Eastern, 4:30pm Central, 3pm Western
Register on Zoom: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZAsdu2qqj0qEtE6SxnxxiRN2bdx6siXqwCE

23. May 2022
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Vale Robyn Daw

One of many admirable qualities possessed by Robyn Daw was a generosity of spirit, a widely appreciated openness to give professional advice to anyone in the art world. There was also an ability to celebrate the success of others without prejudice. And it is certainly true to say that she had a broad range of rich experiences in the art world to draw upon, as an artist, arts writer, curator, art museum educator, program manager and policy developer.

Robyn had integrity and intelligence and she resisted compromise. You couldn’t easily get away with much with Robyn without, rightfully, the validity of what you were saying being questioned. In this way she invited responsibility and conversations were lively and enjoyable.

Robyn’s joy and enthusiasm for art and life were infectious, she was witty with a finely tuned sense of humour, she was a thoughtful leader and mentor, and she was elegant and stylish. (As we all noted: alluring jewellery and clothes, especially shoes.)

Many of us within and without the art world admired her for these professional and personal qualities. Women in particular say she gave them confidence when they were beginning in the arts. All of these attributes resulted in a wide circle of professional associates many of whom became close friends. In short, as colleagues have repeated, Robyn was a beautiful person.

We admire her for her exhibition curating in, and prolific writing on art, craft and design — contemporary and historical — and for her leadership roles at Craft Australia and Craft Queensland (now Artisan), and more recently at Arts Queensland (for five years).

For the last decade Robyn was Creative Industries Program Leader at Logan City Council, where she worked to invigorate cultural engagement and development in that community.

Previously, for a collective period of 10 years, Robyn worked in public programming and education at the National Gallery of Australia, QUT Art Museum and Queensland Art Gallery.

A strong interest in the art and culture of textiles led her to work as a weaver at the Australian Tapestry Workshop in Melbourne (city of her birth) from 1986 to ’89, followed by a French government scholarship to research textiles in France. In 2001 she curated the much respected ‘Material Witness: 15th Tamworth Fibre Textile Biennial’ for the Tamworth City Gallery. A large tapestry by her, Speed 2001, is held in the collection of Ararat Gallery/Textile Art Museum Australia.

While Robyn believed in the power of art for a better life, more broadly she was passionate about people, her garden, music and good food — the latter often supplied by her long-time partner and artist, Ian Friend.

It was with Ian that ‘ArtBunker’ was formed in 2006 and, working collaboratively, a range of projects were produced including a QUT billboard project, When I leave the clouds, and together with UK group Original Field of Architecture, ArtBunker’s Note to Architect was a finalist in Australian Tapestry Workshop’s ‘Tapestry Design Prize for Architects 2021’.

Robyn’s legacy to arts and culture in Australia lives on.

Ian Were, Brisbane, January 2022 (republished from his website)

03. March 2022
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Legends of Australian craft

We’ve just published a compilation of Wikipedia entries for Australian craftspersons here. Who’s missing?

17. January 2022
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A tribute to George Lucas

One of the kindest and most generous men you could ever meet.

George was born in Australia in 1933 to Greek migrants Anthony and Evdokia who had arrived in 1920. His was a large and happy Greek Family who got together regularly. George, who trained as a French polisher met and married Linley Linton daughter of legendary silversmith Jamie Linton. He soon became Jamie’s apprentice and by 1966 a partner in the Linton Silver business. He made much of the Linton silver and was so busy he did not have time for many designs of his own.  

In the 1970s George studied at the Sir John Cass College in London where due to his skill he was a prize-winning student. After his father-in-law had retired he was in partnership with his brother-in-law John Linton for a while before he set up the shop Argenta (with his workshop below) in partnership with English silversmith and London gallery owner Gill Dutfield who came out regularly to visit. Argenta, in Leederville sold the work of Western Australian and English jewellers and silversmiths.

Argenta in Leederville

George became a guest lecturer at WAIT where he taught raising and to see a mug rise miraculously in a few hours was joy to behold. It was a skill he passed on to those who cared to learn. George generously shared his studio with me at a difficult time in my life and also took many WAIT graduates under his wing over the years. 

He was a professional silversmith who loved his work. He made major commissions and exhibited in a few national exhibitions but mostly lived the life of a committed craftsman. He loved to make and even after he sold Argenta he kept making for the sheer joy of creating. His other love was classical music, the strains of which thankfully were appreciated by his cat Mozart who guarded the workshop. 

George died on august 12th 2020. His generous spirit is sadly missed by all who knew him.

G. Lucas Cass Box 1975 120 x 60mm ss, enamel, gold plate

Dorothy Erickson

04. November 2021
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How to help Indian artisans

Masters of their craft: Dr Ismail Khatri and Liz Williamson

Hello everyone,
Like me, I’m sure you were saddened by the devasting catastrophe that occurred in India in early 2021 with the second wave of the pandemic. Sadly, now several months on, artisans are still suffering from reduced markets and few local tourists and no foreign visitors. As many know I’ve had a long engagement with artisans in India through my own practice, teaching Cultural Textiles courses and most recently Cultural Textiles tours to Gujarat and the Northeast. I’m longing for another visit but since returning in February 2020, my plans for a future trip have shifted from late 2020 to 2021 then 2022 and now most likely late 2022 or early 2023.
Last year, in place of organising a tour, I contacted everyone that had joined me on a tour in either Gujarat or the Northeast and together we raised over $A5000 for artisans. Everyone was very generous in supporting groups in Maheshwar, Gujarat and Assam. Since then, a colleague has made and sold masks to raise funds for the Antaran ‘Gift of Loom’ program in Assam – sending enough for five new looms for weavers in the local Kamrup area. Together we have supported 8 new looms for weavers in this area – a great program that can be supported at https://www.antaranartisanconnect.in/footer/giftofloom
More recently, the Cultural Textiles Gujarat December 2019 group has donated funds for our wonderful guide in Gujarat, Nirav with his efforts to support his family, provide food relief deliveries to the needy and oxygen supplies for those with the virus following the sad death of his mother due to no oxygen being available. 
I am now writing to others who may be are interested in donating to artisans suffering due to the pandemic. For over a year, they have lost income due to difficulties in getting supplies, accessing markets and no local or foreign tourists who visit their workshops and local shops; now so many are sadly infected by the virus, needing food, vaccines and oxygen. 
If you are interested in supporting artisans directly, I recommend these organisations who I know and can be trusted to support artisans families, communities and those in need. There are many other organisations but I can vouch for these. 
Dastkar –  artisans support fund. 
Delhi Craft Council – Covid-19 ‘Artisans’ help fund 
200 Million Artisans is calling for funds to supply oxygen and medical where needed.

Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), headquartered in Ahmedabad, Gujarat with their production unit and Hansiba shop and the Hansiba Museum in Ranhanpur in northern Gujarat. SEWA’s appeal for funds is a link from one of their news items on their home page – a link to a pdf with details, banking details etc. 

Alternatively, if you would like to send funds to me, I’m happy to forward them to colleagues in Ahmedabad and Bhuj in Gujarat directly to support local artisans. Please email me at liz.williamson@unsw.edu.au

I hope that you can join me in supporting artisans and colleagues in India. 

19. July 2021
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