Visit of Kyrgyz artists to Melbourne

Shyrdak, Atbashy district, 2014

The Melbourne UNESCO Observatory of Arts Education provides a platform from which research and professional networks grow, not only within Melbourne, but across Australia and in collaboration with other Arts Observatories within South East Asia. The Observatory provides avenues for deep engagement and affiliation across this network, and serves as an umbrella for classroom teachers, arts educators, artists and researchers to collaboratively explore arts practice. As part of the Observatory, we host an artist-in-residence program and will be hosting ten artists and designers from Central Asia next week.

Some information on the Kyrgyz artist-in-residence

The Kyrgyz Republic is an independent country located in the very heart of Central Asia in the neighbourhood with Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and China.  The Kyrgyz, one of the ancient people of Central Asia, have rich traditional arts and crafts. UNESCO has safeguarded Kyrgyz traditional felt carpets as an ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage’, and we will have an opportunity to learn more about this important work during the visit.

The Kyrgyz artists are in residence from Monday 13th to Saturday 17th August. Proudly, we will also be exhibiting the work of Kyrgyz Photographer, Urmat Osmoev across the week.

Please find below registration details for the upcoming ticketed events at the UNESCO Observatory of Arts Education, Melbourne Graduate School of Education. There are 3 formal and ticketed events:

Welcome drinks

Wednesday 15 August 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm

studioFive, Level 5, Kwong Lee Dow Building

234 Queensberry Street

Please register here

Hands on making workshops and presentation:

Tuesday afternoon making workshop and discussion about Kyrgyz culture, art and design. We invite students, artists, crafts people and interested colleagues to join us in this amazing opportunity to learn about Central Asian arts, crafts and design.

Wednesday 15 August 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm

Visual Arts Studio

studioFive, Level 5, Kwong Lee Dow Building

234 Queensberry Street

This workshop will focus on

  • Traditional felt toys and amulets, with designer Aidai Chochunbaeva.
  • Ethnic dolls of felt, with designer Erkebu Djumagulova
  • Ala-kiyiz, Kyrgyz traditional felt carpets, with designer Aidai Chochunbaeva

Please register here

Saturday afternoon making in the Kyrgyz Arts and Crafts Workshop includes:

Saturday 18 August 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm

studioFive, Level 5, Kwong Lee Dow Building

234 Queensberry Street

  • Kyrgyz textile jewellery, with fashion designer Tatiana Vorotnikova
  • The “nuna felt” scarf making, with designer Kadyrkul Sharshembieva
  • Eco-prints on felt, with designer Iniskhan Turgankazieva

Please register here

We are very lucky to have the following artists and designers here on this visit:

  1. Tatiana Vorotnikova – fashion designer
  2. Erkebu Djumagulova – designer
  3. Galina Turdyeva – designer
  4. Aidai Chochunbaeva – designer
  5. Altynai Osmoeva – fashion designer
  6. Iniskhan Turgankazieva – designer
  7. Kadyrkul Sharshembieva – designer
  8. Zhanybek Sharshembiyev – artisan
  9. Urmatbek Osmoev – book designer, photographer

10. August 2018
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Vale Robert Bell (1946 – 2018)

With regret, we announce the loss of a grand figure of Australian craft. Dr Robert Bell’s leadership as curator on both Australian coasts helped give our crafts the national prominence it was due. He was also a keen advocate internationally for Australia’s role in the World Crafts Council. He will be sadly missed. Our condolences to this dear friends, colleagues, family and wife Eugenie Keefer Bell, who provided us with the following obituary.

Dr Robert Stewart Bell AM
29 December 1946, Perth WA – 28 July 2018, Canberra ACT

Loving and cherished husband of Eugenie Keefer Bell for over 32 years.

Beloved by his family as eldest son of John (dec) and Vonda (dec), brother of Anthony and Beverley, brother-in-law of Gabrielle and Lance in Australia, and Diane, Richard and Ronald in California, uncle of goddaughter Veronica and nephew James.

Robert completed a 50 year career in the arts, serving with insight and passion as Senior Curator of Decorative Arts and Design at the National Gallery of Australia, following long terms as Curator of Crafts and Design at the Art Gallery of Western Australia and Senior Designer at the W.A. Museum. As an artist working in ceramics and textiles, his work was exhibited in Australia and internationally, and is held in public and private collections.

He was awarded the 2001 Australian Centenary Medal, the 2005 Australia Council Emeritus Award and in 2010 was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for service to contemporary craft and design.

An unfailingly generous and gracious man, Robert was loved and admired by his family, friends, colleagues and the many artists whose work he encouraged and supported.

A private cremation service will be held.

So that Robert’s many friends and colleagues may have an opportunity to come together in sorrow at his passing, but with joy in having known him, a memorial celebration of Robert’s life and his contribution to the arts will be held in September in Canberra. Friends and colleagues who would like to be advised of the venue and date, are requested to send their contact address, email and phone number to

30. July 2018
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China International Import Expo 2018

The largest import expo to be held in China will take place in Shanghai 5-10 November 2018. The Australia China Commercial Association(ACCA) as Official Authoriser represent China International Import Expo Bureau & as service provider represent China Arts and Entertainment Group (CAEG) are pleased to invite you to the 2018 China International Import Expo (CIIE)

About the CIIE
On the 5-10 November this year, China will host the first China International Import Expo (CIIE). The event will take place in Shanghai, the hub of trade in China today, and will feature exhibits in areas including Animation, Games, Sculpture, Painting, Music, Dance, Intangible Cultural Heritages, Intangible Property, etc.

Over 100 countries and regions are expected to participate in the event, which represents an important move by China to open up its market and promote international trade, whilst also serving as a platform for countries around the world to showcase their development achievements and discuss global economic and trade issues.
*Please note, there is a limit application allowed to attend this Expo*


The World Platform

Australia China Commercial Association (ACCA) would like to provide you with an opportunity to exhibit at China’s First International IMPORT Expo under a Cultural Classification. In corporation with the World Trade Organization, United Nations Industrial Development Organization and other relevant international agencies, The Ministry of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China and the Shanghai Municipal People’s Government will be working as the main sponsors of the event.

The total area of the exhibition area exceeds 240,000 square meters and consists of two main units: The National Trade and Investment Comprehensive Exhibition and the Corporate Commercial Exhibition. China International Import Expo and the China Arts and Entertainment Group have appointed ACCA as solo cooperation representor for the Cultural Exhibition.

The aim of the Corporate Cultural Exhibition is to showcase and promote a rounded Australian cultural experience to global citizens as affiliated to the Cultural Zone of the Comprehensive Service Zone. This is a unique commercial export opportunity to showcase Australian Culture at the Shanghai Import Expo in China, make connections and develop further commercial and service opportunities.

ACCA would like to invite Australian Aboriginal Culture Associations, Organization, Government involved in the Cultural Sector of Australian Industry and Enterprise to exhibit at the first China International Import Expo. Also the opportunity approved by China National Publicity Department, through the world platform to display Australian Aboriginal Culture, maybe you can obtain further commercial chance on display.



Shorey Wong
General Secretary
Tel. 61 3 9020 5885
FAX:61 3 9790 5203
Australia China Commercial Association
39-41 Overseas Drive, Noble Park North.
Melbourne, Australia. VIC 3174

05. June 2018
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WCC-APR General Assembly in Kathmandu 29 August – 2 September 2018

Members are welcome to be part of a special event in Kathmandu Nepal.

WoCCA has a special relationship to Nepal. In response to the devastating earthquake of April 2015, funds were raised from members that enabled the reconstruction of potter’s workshops. This has made a big difference in the lives of the potters.

Now is a chance to get to know the Nepalese better with this inside view of their crafts. WCC-APR General Assemblies are rich events, involving a combination of ceremonies, demonstrations, forums, workshops, tours and plenty of local cuisine. There will be a focus on wood and fibre crafts.

For more information, please see the website – 


03. May 2018
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Hamadan International Craft Fair – 21-25 August 2018

Lalejin potter with busts and photos of ancestor potters.

Here’s a wonderful chance to display your wares at one of the great craft cultures of the world.

Hamadan Holds 14th National Craft Fair and First International Craft Fair Coinciding Hamadan Recognition as the Tourism Capital City of Asia

Hamadanˊs Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts, and Tourism Organization is holding its annual National Craft Fair this year. Craftsmen from all around the country participate in the event every year. This year considering Hamadanˊs being recognized as the Tourism Capital City of Asia in 2018 and regarding high capacities and the potential of the province being the heartland of a number of crafts like the Global City of Lalejin in pottery, Tuyserkan and Malayer in wood carving, and Hamadan itself in leather works and regarding the tourism attractions of the city like Ganjnameh inscriptions (Archamenian period), Avicenna mausoleum, Alisadr cave (the longest water cave in the world), Alavid dome (Seljukian period), Babataher tomb, the ancient city of Hegmataneh, Hamadan is holding this year ̓s fair internationally.

Supporting Hamadan and Iran original and local crafts and introducing these artworks as well as the city itself to the invited countries and on the other side introducing the crafts and artworks of the invited countries to the Iranian craftsmen and the public are of other purposes of holding the fair.

We are pleased to announce and warmly welcome the participation of our international guests in our 14th annual craft fair. The craft fair will be held at Hamadan International Exhibition from Tuesday, August 21st to Saturday, August 25th from 03:30 to 09:00pm. Set up is on Monday, August 20th at 11:00 and the building closes at 05:00pm.

A booth space will be free of charge. Booth spaces are approximately 3ˊ to 4ˊ wide by 3ˊ deep. The International Fair shall supply the vendors a table and two chairs. Double booth spaces are also available under your former announcement.

Our international guests will reside in a three star hotel to the vicinity of the fair and there will be VIP buses for transportation. Visiting Hamadan tourism attractions like Alisadr cave (the worldˊs longest water cave), Avicenna mausoleum, Ganjnameh inscription (Achaemenian period) and its tourism resort complex, Babataher tomb are also included in the program. We also hope we can host the WCC members while the fair is held.

For participation and more clarification, please contact directly the Deputy of Crafts Ms.Alireza Qasemi at +9834238704 (call or text) or you can email them at

20. April 2018
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Could you run a workshop on vintage fabrics?

WoCCA has been approached by Phillips Shirts, a company based in Malvern, Melbourne, who have been making shirts for over 60 years. They have a large vault of fabrics that have been acquired during this period including silk and cotton. They would like to work with some textile artists who are able to conduct some public workshops at their warehouse using our fabrics.  These could include fabric dying, quilting, bookbinding and recycling/upcycling fabric. They can provide public liability and can pay artists depending on the proposal.
For further inquiries, please contact the Brand Manager, Amit Charan or 03 9670 3000.
Brand Manager, Phillips Shirts


09. April 2018
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WoCCA at Hermès

Frederic inking the silk screen for the Hermès scarf

Thanks to the very knowledgeable and thoughtful Miranda Samuels, WoCCA members had an insider view of the Hermès exhibition in Melbourne. Monsieur Kamel Hamadou gave a wonderful exposition of the silkscreen printing process behind the iconic Hermès scarves, while the very skill Frederic produced a geometrically designed scarf before our eyes, with more than a dozen screens, without a blemish.  We heard a long explanation of why this production is located in Lyon and the wonderful infrastructure of craft schools that ensure there is a new generation coming through to renew the tradition.

The discussion with Miranda was quite enlivening and touched on the ambivalence some Australians might feel about a luxury craft brand. We’re hoping that this Hermès tour will prompt us to consider our own heritage crafts and how we can give them a profile similar to those in France. Vive la république des métiers!

11. March 2018
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Will Robert Bell be replaced at the National Gallery of Australia?

For many years, the decorative arts in Australia were ably served by Dr Robert Bell. The National Gallery of Australia was the preeminent collector of the nation’s finest decorative arts and crafts. As Senior Curator, Decorative Arts and Design, Robert curated many fine exhibitions during his tenure at the NGA, including the major exhibition of craft art, Transformations. He contributed to the development of audiences in Australia and internationally through his many conference presentations, journal articles, catalogues and book chapters including recently, the Toledo Museum of Arts’ book, Color Ignited. Robert Bell played an especially significant role in profiling our jewellery and metalsmithing.

It has been believed in the craft sector that acquisitions by the National Gallery of Australia represented the ultimate recognition as an artist. We feel that we represent important stakeholders in this national collection.

Though they are big shoes to fill, we presumed that Robert Bell would be replaced after his departure. As far as we know, there has been no new curator appointed in charge of decorative arts at the National Gallery of Australia. This seems a significant absence with regards to the care and growth of this important national collection, and, in terms of the organisation’s capacity to reflect our national artistic scene and cultural values.

We recognise that there have been funding cuts to the NGA, which would necessitate cost-cutting measures. But we feel strongly that this is a critical role in the organisation.

We call on the National Gallery of Australia to fill the vacant position of Decorative Arts curator.

08. February 2018
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International Crafts Fair in Oman

The Public Authority for Crafts Industries in the Sultanate of Oman is Organizing the International Crafts Fair during 9 – 13 March 2019. The Organizer will provide the following :

1-      3×3 m Boots ( for free).

2-      A room include (Breakfast + Lunch + dinner ).

3-      Free Transportation from the hotel to the venue of the events and vice verse.

4-      Free transport from to the airport.

5-      Free Visa arrangement for entering the country.

The artisans who would like to participate in this event would be required to arrive in the country one day prior to the fair and would leave the country one day after the event.

For participation and more information kindly be requested to contact:  Ms. Fayiza Al- Balushi at this telephone number : (968) 24350033 or (968) 92710225 or you can email her at

29. December 2017
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Advice on Australia Council funding for craft

While there have been significant cuts to the Australia Council funding available to artists and organisations, it still remains a significant resource for supporting works of artistic promise.

Having recently served as a peer, I can share some observations that may be useful if you are thinking of applying in the future.

There’s a lot of pressure on the peers to allocate a small amount of funds. If an application has any reason not to be funded there and then, this will often knock it out of contention, even it if is worthy in other ways. This can include:

  • The start date is sufficiently distant that you can apply again in the next round
  • Support letters are missing or links to support material do not work
  • The budget seems overinflated and there is not enough detail

From a positive perspective, a good application places the project in a broader strategy, which points to future outcomes. It includes a clear and interesting question that is being asked. And it has a defined focus, rather than a scattergun collection of ticked boxes.

On the other side of the table, it is critical to have an advocate for craft who can articulate more medium-specific values. As a minority art form, it is easy to dismiss craft practice as “niche” or parochial. All worthy art is ultimately “niche” as it involves a level of specialisation that sets it apart from mass culture. But the value of skill is not as obvious as the more conceptual meanings attached to visual art practice. And craft practice is rarely associated with the more glamorous locations of New York and Berlin, nor are there the international flagships of Venice Biennale or major art fairs.

In my experience, other peers are very respectful of the craft voice and are genuinely committed to taking it on board.  Visual Arts staff can make up for an absent perspective, but having an independent craft voice at the table helps greatly. So do consider registering as a peer to fight for the cause as the modest pool is allocated.

That said, funding is not the only form of recognition for valuable work. Platforms like our Garland magazine are also worth supporting as ways we can acknowledge and encourage handmade works of great skill and meaning.

The next round of Australia Council grants is due 7 February 2017. You can nominate to be a peer here. 

Kevin Murray

12. December 2016
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