oral history

Interviews have begun!

Jesse Adams Stein and Nikki Henningham have (respectively) begun to undertake oral history interviews for the Makers, Manufacturers & Designers Oral History Project, to be collected with the National Library of Australia.

At the time of writing (18/3/22), we have completed four interviews, with several more scheduled for the coming months.

Already, we can see clear connections emerging between manufacturing, creative industries and technical education. The current group of interviewees have such diverse life experiences, but to give you some idea, we’ve been talking about: textiles patternmaking, industrial model-making, boat-building, manufacturing business management, surf-brand textiles production, art-making, industrial draughting, screen-printing, bespoke and by-demand production, industrial design education, sustainable furniture-making, readymade assemblages, offshored 3D printed prototypes and textile mills.

The importance of the local – and of face-to-face contact – is emerging as a key theme. Geographically specific zones of expertise and shared practices are core to how many small manufacturing businesses operate, and the digitised and globalised culture of free-market capitalism has brutally fractured (but not entirely destroyed) tight-knit communities of makers and technicians.

We have our fingers crossed in relation to future Covid variants and climate-change-related weather disasters – but so far so good. Who knows what could be around the corner … but we hope to continue the interviews throughout autumn and winter 2022.

Geographically, the planned interviews cover Melbourne and regional Victoria, Sydney, regional NSW, and South Australia. We hope to include other states and territories as the project grows – although given Victoria and NSW’s history as manufacturing centres, those states tend to feature more. And WA remains a goal – if you’re a maker, manufacturer or technical educator from WA and you’d like to be involved, let us know!

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