Essay

At Home and in the Studio: Quishile Charan

My studio is my couch, or as my flatmate would say, “the iconic Quishile spot.” On sunny days, I will be outside experimenting with natural dyeing and drying plants for future projects. Over the course of lockdown my making has slowed down drastically and my focus has been on phone calls with elders back home in Fiji. Through WhatsApp calls and Facetime videos I have been learning more about how my family garden, the use of different Fijian plants and craft memories from my Fua and Aaji. Through digital exchange, knowledge has been travelling between Aotearoa and Fiji. My elders have been keeping me grounded during these times and reminding me that my hands must learn everything their hands can make.

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Quishile Charan is an Indo-Fijian artist and writer living and working in Aotearoa, New Zealand. Charan’s practice focuses on healing through craft that speaks of hands, emotions, spirituality, and of women who resisted indentured labour during colonial Fiji. As a female descendent of indenture, Charan undertakes her responsibility to build counter-colonial narratives for her female ancestors. She explores how textile narratives can stitch and thread together active forms of love, care and hope that function as a contemporary form of resistance to the present-day realities of existing under neo-colonialism. Charan also seeks to use textile-making to challenge the colonial occupation of knowledge that pertains to the history of women’s bodily and mental experience of indentured labour in Fiji. Charan upholds the values and significance of craft as a language, identity and hope through the intergenerational love shared between the artist and the women in her life.

Charan recently graduated with a Master of Visual Arts from Auckland University of Technology.

Quishile Charan, yellow flowers, tatting

Quishile Charan embroidering at home

Avocado seeds being prepared and stored for textile dyeing

Quishile Charan, avocado seeds detail shot