Introduction

On display is a collection of contemporary handicrafts. The selection covers a diverse range of endeavour: artificial flowers, Idrija bobbin lace, crocheted objects, decorative objects, embroidered tableware, greeting cards, mosaics, patchwork, pottery, tapestry, and wood-turning.

The objects reveal individualistic approaches, and interests. Some are based on traditional Slovenian designs, others show new expressions of craft activity. Our attention is drawn to the identity of the creator and their relationship to their present environment. Certain works are arresting in the beautiful detail, are sensitively rendered, and captivate the eye. The handicrafts emanate from the creativity of these individuals and are inspired by the different Australian environment. In this way one can witness the continuity, and changes within a living cultural tradition, from past generations, and the expression of the rich cultural heritage from Slovenia.

Thus, the exhibition relates to the question of historical dimension of handicrafts and design; the connection to the past is maintained in traditional styles, and techniques. Diversity of craft is an enriching experience, and heightens the sense of time and place. As a body the display give pause to reflection on: the character and distinction of handicrafts in this age of new technologies, and mass-production. An exhibition of this nature contributes to the visual record of cultural heritage and shows implicitly the value of different cultures and the expression of varied cultural activities wherever they may be found.

It is important to bring to the broader public this tradition, which has been carried on particularly by Slovenian women. The handicrafts have been prominent in the life of Slovenian communities everywhere. They represent an intimate relationship between the handicrafts men and women and their Slovenian cultural heritage, handed down from generation to generation. In Slovenian communities abroad the handicrafts tradition is an important part of their “slovenskost”.

Women and men began by crafting objects as gifts to their circle of friends, working often at night after a day’s hard work or on the train on he way or from work. After a time these products were exhibited at formal social gatherings of Slovenian associations and at multicultural festivals. The interest was so great that the practitioners offered workshops on the traditional skills, particularly on the making of Idria lace.