Last month, Outback Arts and ‘The Hatmobile’ embarked on a tour of the region, delivering two-day millinery workshops led by world renowned milliner Waultraud Reiner. Following the success of its debut in 2014, the workshops have been received as incredible lifelines and outlets to the people of Far western NSW so have continued every year since.
The focus of the project was to engage rural people in the skills of hat-making, ultimately to provide remote communities with access to a new exciting artistic opportunity as well as to raise awareness and support for mental health. This year some of our most remote communities were visited including Nymagee, Cobar, Louth, Enngonia, Coonamble, Carinda and The Marra.
Waltraud employs a philosophy of positive mental health through creativity. She believes that hats are more than just shelter for the head; they are a powerful means of self-expression. She has the ability to inspire those that she works with, encouraging others to look after their mental health, and embrace a positive lifestyle.
Waltraud herself has a unique story to tell as she has had her fair share of things go wrong in her life. She herself fell into depression after an accident paralysed her husband and bound him to a wheelchair. It was attending a doll making course that broke it. She found a space to laugh, cry, complain and encourage; and that’s when the idea of the travelling millinery workshops were born.
This year Waltraud also brought with her a loom which allowed each community to contribute to a collective weaving. These weavings represent the people, the places, history and identity. Some very personal effects were woven in telling a bigger story. These weavings will be exhibited around the region later in the year so keep in touch!
“I always found solace and support for myself in doing creative things. Country folk in Australia are often socially isolated, and lack opportunities to find time just to be with themselves in making beautiful things. When we create, we give ourselves a chance to connect to something within which often bypasses words…”
This project was presented by Outback Arts with the support of NSW Government through the Ministry of Health.
Click here to listen to a chat between Waltraud and Kia Handley of This Retro Life. They cover life, love and the art of millinery.