Nymagee ladies with their creations

Hats Off to Outback Women 2014

Women across the Outback Arts region were treated to a rare opportunity recently when award winning milliner Waltraud Reiner visited the region as part of the project Hats Off to Outback Women. Working with over fifty participants across the five local government areas of Bourke, Cobar, Coonamble, Walgett and Warren, Waltraud led a series of two-day workshops in the
fine art of millinery with each participant taking home a unique piece of headwear. Visiting the region last year for a Country Arts Support Program project in Coonamble, Outback Arts
Regional Arts Development Officer Jamie-Lea Hodges said the outstanding positive response by women taking part in the 2013 workshop led to the development of this years Hats Off to Outback
Women project.

Waltraud’s philosophy of positive mental health through creativity is what inspired us to plan the project for her to visit all five shires. She has a unique story to share as well as the ability to inspire those that she works with, encouraging others to look after their mental health and embrace a positive lifestyle.With the drought affecting so much of our region, I felt that during this time women across our communities needed a positive experience and a millinery workshop was a way of allowing this to happen. For the women themselves, it was a time to create objects of beauty and functionality and take time to refuel their creativity.Waltraud has the ability to create a space for women to relax and let go of their troubles, even if only for a short while, and I saw that in each workshop the women who took part really cherished the experience, sharing their pride in their hats and overall enthusiastic smiles.

Walgett participant Leigh Mace said she enjoyed the day and the time to create something uniquely for herself.

I just loved that something fabulous can be created out of a combination of fabrics and colours to make a really individual hat that can make you feel a million dollars. I hope that Waltraud can visit again soon.

A sentiment echoed by all participants in the five communities visited, Jamie-Lea said the response from each community and the participants themselves has been one full of gratitude and excitement.

All of the women have gone away with the new skills, individual creations made to measure, a new experience shared with new friends and a new way of looking at mental health and positive wellbeing.

A video documenting the tour has been released featuring interviews from participants and Regional Arts Development Officer Jamie-Lea Hodges. We are excited to be able to share the highlights and achievements of the tour to the wider Outback Arts community.

The Hats Off to Outback Women Millinery Tour was funded through the Ministry of Health – Mental Health.

“It was a wonderful experience for both myself, Waltraud and the participants. The hats created were beautiful and to share that experience with our whole community is fantastic.”