200 years on and these specific timber characteristics are still valued, however the tradition of transformation from forest to valued object occurs within contemporary societal values.
The cultural core of crafting beautiful objects from a timber totally suited to its purpose remains but is overlaid with an equal passion for the conservation of the ecosystem from which it was sourced and the sustainability of the species. Better understanding of the species, its lifecycle and the ecosystem in which it occurs has led to forest management and harvesting regimes that clarify sustainable yields for each species.
The economic and social benefit is demonstrated by significant output, participation, centres and events.
In 2009 it was identified that the industry employed over 2,000 people along its value chain, (a Review of the Tasmanian Woodcraft Sector for the Woodcraft Guild and Forestry Tasmania, March 2009, Farley et al) while a further 8,500 participated in woodcraft activity as a hobby or on a limited commercial level. This participation rate was some 37% higher than the national average participation.
Salamanca Market was founded on showcasing Tasmanian arts and crafts. Now one of Tasmania’s most visited locations, it provides a showcase for visitors to view hand crafted and production objects made from Tasmania’s special timbers. These often evoke the story of visitors Tasmanian experience.
Every two years, the MyState Australian Wooden Boat Festival (AWBF) draws many local Tasmanian, interstate and overseas visitors to the Hobart waterfront to Tasmania’s biggest tourism event and the largest wooden boat festival in the Southern Hemisphere. With 550 wooden boats, 435 volunteer staff and a four-day program of sailing, exhibits, demonstrations, entertainment and great Tasmanian food and wine. Visitors can get up close to a colourful display of hundreds of wooden boats ranging from ocean-going tall ships to superb hand-crafted dinghies. The high levels of local community engagement in exhibiting, volunteering and the festivals’ activities indicate the high degree of community connection with the festival’s focus.
Modelling indicates that the AWBF categories contribute approximately $150m in output to the Tasmanian economy, over $70m in value add and 790 jobs. (derived creating Preferred Futures, REMPLAN Economy, Type 2 Multiplier).
For nearly 25 years, the Wooden Boat Centre Tasmania at Franklin has been producing a range of handcrafted beautiful timber boats. Franklin, on the banks of the Huon River, has a proud shipbuilding and maritime heritage.
This mix of location, transfer of knowledge and the development of skills exemplifies people’s ongoing connection and desire to engage with their cultural heritage.
In addition to a wide range of courses, the Centre offers a location for the building and refurbishment of wooden boats.
The annual Tasmanian Craft Fair at Deloraine includes a number of exhibits of beautifully designed and crafted objects and furniture utilising Tasmania’s special timbers, surrounded by other crafts that in combination reflect a tradition of designing and crafting from locally sourced materials.
In 1976, Gary Cleveland established the Tasmanian Design Centre to establish in the minds of a large proportion of the worlds’ population that the word “Tasmania” is synonymous with good design and reliable craftsmanship. Forty years on and “Design Tasmania” carries on that tradition from its Launceston centre, exhibiting and selling the works of Tasmania’s designer makers.