People of The Otways is a regular feature of Otway Life Magazine. In our Winter Issue we spoke to the basket weaver of Anglesea Caroline Hawkins…
Caroline is an Anglesea resident who travels to Geelong to work with Diversitat Settlement & Community Program
Why do you live in Angelsea?
My husband and I migrated from the UK to Anglesea 25 years ago and raised our boys here. It suits us as it is reasonably close to Geelong, where I work, yet has all the benefits of the beach, the bush and a small close community.
What started you weaving your beautiful baskets?
I experimented with some eucalyptus bark from my garden creating a small bowl and was fascinated. Some formal learning soon followed. It’s very satisfying in that I feel a part of my surrounding environment as I search for suitable weaving plants. The more I learn about the techniques of weaving, the more I feel connected to the depth of knowledge and the ancient culture in a ‘hands on’ way.
What do you like to do in your ‘spare’ time?
Basket weaving! Walking locally with a friend. Yoga. Attending art exhibitions to enjoy other people’s art and come away feeling inspired to keep developing what I do.
What book are you reading at the moment?
‘Under the Quandong tree’ by Minmia
A fascinating glimpse of Aboriginal wisdom and spirituality. Her explanation on how to interpret our own connectedness to the land, plants and animals and understanding ourselves within the Dreaming struck a chord with me. The inclusiveness of all who live in Australia, I found very consoling as a migrant to this country.
Where are you planning to go for your next trip/holiday?
Thailand. I work in Geelong with Karen people originally from Myanmar, assisting them in maintaining their culture through fabric weaving and basket weaving. I feel very lucky to have been invited to travel with our interpreter. We have an important task on behalf of the Geelong weavers to deliver a donation of funds to a refugee camp on the Myanmar/ Thai border.
This bandicoot was inspired by the ‘bush toys’ made by indigenous weavers in the central desert. A method of transforming readily available materials, straw and wool into a toy, to connect to the environment, educate and illustrate a story. I was taught how to make bush toys by indigenous artist Bronwyn Razem.
The southern brown bandicoot, once common sight in people’s backyards is now a nationally endangered species.