Stories of Making: Across the Ocean, over the Mountain

Collaborative project on Indigenous knowledge and craft practice with an online programme in November 2020

Norwegian Crafts has been redefining our understanding of (contemporary) craft and the way in which our organisation honours Indigenous making practices and underrepresented voices in the craft field for the past three years. Through our guest residency program, Curator in Residence, we have invited curator Namita Wiggers from Warren Wilson College (2017), artist and architect Joar Nango (2019) to guide us in this work. As a direct result, over the past two years we have focused on Sápmi in order to strengthen our knowledge of duodji and Sámi culture. This work is continuing through our collaboration with our current guest curator Zoe Black, community development curator at Objectspace, Aotearoa New Zealand. Together Zoe Black, Objectspace and Norwegian Crafts are undertaking a collaborative project, titled Stories of Making: Across the Ocean, over the Mountain, aimed at creating opportunities for Indigenous practitioners and continuing the dialogue in the craft field between Sápmi and Norway, Aotearoa New Zealand and beyond. The project will explore how living cultural practices are unique to place and people yet offer common ground to come together.

As part of this work, Norwegian Crafts has developed two key intentions that will guide this project and future activities. These commitments outline what we aim to achieve and how we will continue to work as an organisation.

 Norwegian Crafts is committed to facilitate areas for exchange between Sámi, Norwegian and international practitioners in the craft field.

 Norwegian Crafts is committed to support activities, practitioners and institutions to ensure understanding and recognition of duodji continues to deepen.

Stories of Making: Across the Ocean, over the Mountain will start by sharing strategies relating to the value, the transmission and representation of Indigenous knowledge. Through these conversations we will look at how crafts institutions can be configured or re-configured to engage in dialogue with an extended craft making concept. There are few arenas that create exchanges between Sámi, Norwegian and international practitioners in the field of crafts, and here Norwegian Crafts wants to catalyse more opportunities for collaboration with Sámi institutions and artists.

Stories of Making aims to share knowledge within the craft field about Indigenous making practices. It will demonstrate how a diversity of leadership can be preserved and disseminated in an expanded understanding of the concept of craft. The programme is aimed at artists and makers, duojárat, curators, art historians, directors, gallerists, education and other professionals in the craft field nationally and internationally in addition to other groups that will have a professional interest in the content of the programme. The project is initiated by Norwegian Crafts and produced by Zoe Black (Objectspace) and duojár Anna C. Sjursen.

A central part of the collaborative project is an online seminar programme taking place in November 2020, consisting of two films and three panel discussions. The filmed conversations are centered around the publication Crafting Aotearoa: A Cultural History of Making in New Zealand and the Wider Moana Oceania edited by Karl Chitham, Kolokesa U Māhina-Tuai and Damian Skinner, and the Arctic Indigenous Design Archive (AIDA) - a cross-border collaboration between Ájtte museum, Sámi arkiiva and Sámi Allaskuvla. Conversations, issues and points of interest from these presentations will inform the three panel discussions. Centering projects from Sápmi (Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia) and Aotearoa, the online programme will consider how storytelling, making practices, and aural traditions strengthen cultural perspectives and how the exchange of ideas and global strategies can support new ways of valuing Indigenous knowledge. The discussions will consider examples of how research has been conducted and how institutions engage and disseminate Indigenous perspectives.


The Arctic Indigenous Design Archives (AIDA) is a cross-border collaboration in Sápmi between the Sámi Archives of the National Archives of Finland, Ájtte - Swedish Mountain and Sami Museum in Sweden and Sámi allaskuvla in Norway. The project aims to establish archives for Sámi duojár and artists and to ensure the preservation and continuity of Sámi design-thinking for future generations.

In this conversation Professor in duodji at Sámi allaskuvla Gunvor Guttorm, Senior Research Officer at the Sámi Archives Inker-Anni Linkola-Aikio and Curator at Ájtte museum Anna Westman Kuhmunen discuss the multifaceted role of duodji archives. How new archive practices can we developed when working from a duodji perspective. How archives as learning environments, as well as for preservation of materials, are connected with the creative processes of duojárat. This talk takes place in the outdoors in Guhttaš and in the homes of Perisak Juuso, Ida Maria Marakatt and Sami Laiti.

Crafting Aotearoa: A Cultural History of Making in New Zealand and the Wider Moana Oceania, edited by Karl Chitham, Kolokesa Uafā Māhina-Tuai and Damian Skinner, is a landmark publication that has pushed how we understand craft and consider making practices in Aotearoa.

Here, two of its editors Karl Chitham and Kolokesa Uafā Māhina-Tuai, explain how the publication came about and how the complex term ‘craft’ has been redefined in the publication. The conversation was filmed within the exhibition Ā Mua at the Dowse Art Museum that featured work from over twenty contemporary makers from Aotearoa.

Zoom panels

Zoom session 1, Monday 16 November 8PM CET / Tuesday 17 November 8AM NZDT*
Stories of Making: Sharing tradition will consider the role cultural institutions have in maintaining and honouring making practices.  When working with taonga (treasured items), toi (art, making practices) and duodji, how should cultural institutions collaborate with practitioners to ensure traditions are respected and preserved?

Zoom Session 2, Monday 23 November 8PM CET / Tuesday 24 November 8AM NZDT*
Stories of Making: Living knowledge will look at how practitioners from across Aotearoa and Sápmi have reconnected with and re-remembered practices of making, as well as discussing the strategies that have been useful when navigating old knowledge and new innovation. How are new tools and ways of working ensuring the growth of Indigenous practices?

Zoom session 3, Monday 30 November 8PM CET / Tuesday 1 December 8AM NZDT*
Bringing together both curator and practitioner perspectives, Stories of Making: Engaging display will consider how we can respect Indigenous world views in contemporary spaces.  If Indigenous perspectives aren’t embedded in an institution, how can we make these spaces safe for exploring Indigenous practices?  When we move off our whenua (land) and into international spaces, what considerations change?

* The date and time for each part of the seminar programme is listed in both Central European Time (CET) and New Zealand Day Time (NZDT).

For detailed information about the panels and contributors please take a look here.

Reference group

In order to ensure that Sámi perspectives are central to the project, a reference group has been established to guide the project managers with robust consultation in the form of advice and input both with regards to partners and content. The reference group consists of artist and architect Joar Nango; PhD candidate at University of Oslo, archaeologist, museologist and duojár Liisá-Rávna Finbog; associate professor in art history at University of Copenhagen Mathias Danbolt; community development curator at Objecspace Zoe Black.

Stories of Making: Across the Ocean, over the Mountain has received support from The Norwegian Association for Arts and Crafts (Norske Kunsthåndverkere).