Woodford is a wonderful festival away from the hustle of the city celebrations. There are no fireworks, no roughies, and a very different vibe where you can fill your head with amazing experiences outside of getting drunk and revelling away. One of those inimitable experiences is the visual art workshop programs happening at the festival. There is a wide array of techniques and skills one can learn there amongst the trees and music.
Rebecca Cason from Brisbane craft collective Brisbane Brown Owls will be involved with some of the craft workshops at the festival and was kind enough to chat to us about craftiness within Woodford.
Firstly, can you tell me a little bit about Brisbane Brown Owls?
It started in Melbourne and started by Pip Lincoln who is the mind behind Meet Me at Mikes, a craft store based in Fitzroy at the time. She’s also the queen of crafts in this country. I’d reckon most people would say that about her!
She started this arts group and everyone was blogging about their craft at the time, talking about hand made things that they were making. The Melbourne group looked fun and exciting. It was like-minded people getting together. She put a call out on her blog to see if people wanted to start their own version of Brown Owls in their own city and so I put my hand up along with others up here. That’s how it started here in Brisbane.
The group is simply about getting people together who like to make things and having a nice ol’ cuppa and a laugh!
Is there a specific thing that Brown Owls make? Or do you deal with different craft making activities?
With the Brisbane chapter, our aim is to learn a new craft at each meetup each month. The crafts are aimed at all levels, so people can take up paper craft, knitting, crochet and all kinds of things at a beginner, expert level or anywhere in between. There’s no real judgement or restrictions. Someone might want to do quilling (a paper craft) in our group and we agree on whether to do it or not next month if we haven’t done it. It’s done in a relaxed way as well.
You’re involved within Woodford in its arts program putting on a whole bunch of workshops. Can you let me know the details of your particular workshops?
Brisbane Brown Owls is putting on four workshops at the tent known as the Craft Oasis. We’ll be doing a couple of jewellery techniques, doing some macramé weaving plus a few mixed media workshops.
We have worked quite a lot with Woodford in the past and loved it. We’re so happy to be having workshops that are drop-in too, basic and a good opportunity to wind down during the festival. It’s a nice breakaway area for people.
How many years have you been doing these workshops at Woodford?
This is Brown Owls’ fourth year. It’s been successful and it’s great because people can learn a lot more about the groups around Australia. They can go back home if they are from interstate and they can join a group or start their own Brown Owls group. Our time at the festival is also saying that there are crafty experiences after the festival to. We want to spur that sense of creativity, community and connecting with other people, which is one of the values of Woodford. We feel we are a great fit.
Have you seen people make their own version of Brown Owls after a festival?
There were a few people who met one year at the Woodford workshops and they started talking about starting a Sunshine Coast Brown Owls there. I helped along with starting that one up. That was nice to be involved with and getting that off the ground.
I’m sure there have been a lot of connections made in the past as well long distance connections too. There’s a lovely sense of friendship starting at these workshops.
How much do your workshops fit in within a festival that is primarily music-based?
I think chilling out is a major factor here – one of the major things I love about this festival is that there is a whole dedicated space looking at all kind of art forms. There are music workshops, our workshops, strange cool things happening that you can get involved in. It’s all about meeting people through all these wonderful activities.
Other than your own, what other workshops are you looking forward to?
The visual arts workshops are always amazing! The basket weaving is such a beautiful place to be as well. In amongst the hustle and bustle of people around the festival, the basket weaving facilitators are a wonderful bunch of people giving some awesome peaceful quiet time to chill out and make something. The wheel-throwing potters as well are such a fun bunch of people and it’s a fun technique as well.
I should say that the Children’s Festival is a wonderful place as well for both parents and kids to create things as well. It’s so charming to see such young faces down there as well making things.
What are your aims in 2017 for Brown Owls Brisbane?
I guess with Brown Owls, there’s a process of making things with your own hands. People tend to talk to each other more. It breaks down barriers. It’s a good process to develop relationships and social interaction. New mums who need to get out of the house, or people who are lonely – for these people, it’s not necessarily a healing process, but people can come and make something and engage in this space and feel comfortable there.
In 2017 I’ve got quite a lot of new crafts that we’ll be doing as part of Brown Owls, and the aim is to hopefully get a bunch of new people along and discovering new techniques and crafts that anyone can learn.
Brisbane Brown Owls is having a bunch of workshops at the Woodford Folk Festival, which happens between December 27th -1st January at Woodford, Queensland. Some art workshops are drop-in while others will need to be booked in. For more info head to the arts & crafts section of the Woodford Folk Festival website.