Recently I was delighted and honoured by an invitation to be photographed for a calendar, wearing a traditional Aboriginal possum-skin cloak. Possums are protected in Australia, so the cloak is made from New Zealand pelts. Loretta, an Aboriginal elder, and a woman of great imagination, conceived the idea of the calendar and included women from the Wednesday painting group, as well as members of her family. The cloak has particular connection for me with Gulaga, the mountain looming over my part of the world at Potato Point, and featured in my blog header: cloud often settles on the top of the mountain and Mother Gulaga is said to be wearing her possum skin cloak.
Loretta is making another cloak as a gift to the University of Wollongong. Her plan is to burn designs by local Batemans Bay Aboriginal women on the skin side, and use the cloak as a means of educating people about Aboriginal history: she has funding from the university to develop a teaching package.
On a grey day, I took off my glasses and squinted into the glare as Loretta photographed me against the background of her bush, and I luxuriated in the feel of the cloak and the privilege of being invited to wear it.