What a truly delightful weekend we enjoyed at the Maldon Folk Festival, despite the rather Dickensian weather that descended for the weekend. The wide and welcoming verandahs of Maldon kept us safe and dry, and the ever so friendly proprietors of Tansley and Co. graciously allowed us to use their shopfront as our morning station, whilst we busily captured the images of delightful passers-by.
We were positively overwhelmed by the talented musicians on offer, so much so that it made a challenge in choosing our next destination! We were invited to take refuge from the rain at the Roddy Read songwriting competition, where we were witness to a steady flow of talented artists, and the delightful revelers enjoying the music. We would like to extend our sincere congratulations to Matt Glass for taking the esteemed honours on the day, and also for looking rather dapper with gentleman’s hat and spyglass!
We were ever so delighted to have made the decision to board the Victorian Goldfields Shuttle, as it was here we were introduced to the atmospheric convict-Irish-folk of Witches Leap. Listening to their wonderful tales of an old Australia (enhanced by gin and tonics, as provided by the most hospitable Andrew) was indeed a highlight of the festival. Our thanks also to engineer Rodney, who graciously allowed us to step into the steam engine and toot the whistle, which we did with gusto, perhaps once or twice (or even thrice!) following which we posed for some rather raucous photos with the crew. We naturally would not have missed the wonderful Hepzibah as her alter-ego, Tracey Roberts, leading the glittering Tracey Roberts Quartet with verve and panache. What a positively splendid set!
To all the wonderful friends we made whilst strolling the streets, what a joy to have made your acquaintance. Special mention must go to John and Alex from Arty-Rex Duo, who lifted our spirits by filling the Sunday morning streetscape with song and harmony. To the wonderful Barbara who, when innocently passing by was asked by Hepzibah to capture a photo or two of the Harpies (perhaps in the gutter, and perhaps with gin) graciously obliged by taking several artful pictures that were truly splendid - we cannot thank you enough! Finally, the wonderful Peter and Renee from Maldon Vintage Machinery Museum - could there have been a more exceptional setting for our props and costumery? Or a more delightful luncheon than a Devonshire Tea amongst the wonderful curiosities of yesteryear? We think not!
You will find all of the wonderful images from the festival on this page -we do hope you receive as much joy from viewing them as we took in capturing them. We also hope they prompt you to reminisce on wonderful memories made, and we look forward to seeing our new friends back again next year, for another positively splendid event.
Early in 2019, The Brass Harpies (being lovers of all things creative and bookish) decided to visit the lovely township of Clunes. For those unfamiliar with Clunes, it is a delightful gold-rush town, resplendent with surviving Victorian architecture and thus a perfect backdrop for many a photograph in our finery. It is also home to the world-famous Clunes Booktown Festival, which we attended with enthusiasm, returning with a number of wonderful choices to while away cosy winter afternoons.
In between perusing the books we made acquaintance with the most delightful Sharon, a school librarian who also shared our love of fine literature, splendid scenery, and curious costumery. Whilst chatting with Sharon she came upon the idea of inviting us to attend her Book Week celebrations - to present Steampunk to the girls, and provide a wonderful opportunity for them to dress up, be silly, and imagine a future of copper and steam.
How could we possibly say no!?
We journeyed to Marian College, carrying a multitude of props, corsets, hats, wigs, scarves, goggles (you name it!) and arrived on Sharon’s doorstep ready to unleash steampunk onto the library. We were ever so delighted to make use of the library’s most magnificent green velvet throne, and proceeded to create an Alice-in-Wonderland themed Photo Booth for the girls to enjoy.
Anyone who has worked with teens knows that they can be an indifferent audience - so it was with no small amount of trepidation that we faced the girls, and pondered what they might think of our offering. Within 10 minutes however we realised we needn’t have worried - what followed was a veritable tornado of props, costumery, photography, laughter and general silliness. The girls LOVED IT. More than once we heard “I feel like I’m famous”, and the increasing boldness of the posing and costume creation reflected the confidence that we know steampunk can foster.
So what did we achieve by bringing steampunk to the girls? Hopefully some fun, frivolity, and a steamer trunk of laughs, but most importantly we wanted to gift the girls a hearty serving of SELF-ESTEAM.
When The Brass Harpies first came together over a gin and tonic (what else?), we hatched an idea of taking Steampunk to the streets, but really had no idea how to go about it. We knew that Steampunk was amazing, uplifting, joyful, hilarious, and emboldening - but how could we convince others of the same?
When workshopping what to do, we sat and pondered what Steampunk offered that was so very intoxicating. Why did we feel compelled to dress in these outfits, and not only that, to seek every available opportunity to “get frocked”? Was it simply because when we did, we looked and felt AMAZING? As Hepzibah once (now famously) quoted - “I can’t stop looking at myself!” and this self-esteem boost was common to each of us when donning our outfits. We agreed that self-esteem is a fundamental aspect of Steampunk’s charm.
Each of us is also deeply creative, and we knew that the artistry of the costumes was captivating. The tones, the textures, the jewellery, the HATS my goodness the HATS. The detail and design that goes into outfit creation is akin to creating a piece of art. Even better, when the artwork is complete you get to wear it out and about. The sense of satisfaction that comes from a finely constructed outfit is deeply gratifying.
But also the PHOTOS. The colour, hilarity and boldness that comes from posing for photos in Steampunk attire! Why does a top hat bring out the inner thespian? Not only was this something we saw in ourselves, but also in others on whom we put a top hat- and we will put a top hat on anything!
And so The Brass Harpies were born! We would take Steampunk to the world by gathering as many splendid props and hats as we could. We would dress the unsuspecting masses in these props and take photos using a beautiful picture frame. We would carry all our beautiful attire in an equally beautiful pram. It was so obvious! We sourced all the bits and pieces we needed and were ready to hit the streets. We just needed to find an actual street to hit...
ENTER FUNFEST - our annual community festival in Emerald, Victoria, with happy crowds, a beautiful backdrop, and a STEAM TRAIN ARRIVAL (how perfect!). We felt FunFest was ideal for our maiden voyage, but there was still a feeling of trepidation. Would we be avoided? Would people look upon us with disinterest? Would people see us as annoying?
We needn’t have worried - I think the pictures below speak for themselves!
Thank you, my friends, for helping us bring steampunk to the world.