Posted in 78 Tarot Doorways, Australian Womens Voices, Female Role Models, Five of Swords, Writing with Tarot

Five of Wands – Olive Cotton and Max Dupain

The symbolism in the Five of Wands suggests that there is form of conflict in one’s life. This may be an existing conflict or one that is brewing and may eventually blow up in one’s face. It may also depict a problem in communication, for example in a situation where no one really wants to listen to the other – meaning that no agreement or understanding takes place.

Olive Cotton Is regarded as was one of Australia’s pioneering modernist photographers.

Cotton was born in Sydney in 1911, daughter of Florence (pianist/painter) and Leo (geologist) both whom shared interest in photography. During early childhood, Cotton was privy to aspects of environment and developed a love of the world around her. At age 11, Cotton was given her first camera and her love of photography grew from this.

In 1934, Olive Cotton graduated from the university of Sydney and began working in the studio of Australian photographer Max Dupain, a childhood friend who she married. Cotton and Dupain had been childhood friends who grew up sharing a keen interest in the evolving medium of photography. Cotton and Dupain became romantically involved in 1928 and married in 1939. However marrying each other exposed them to some uncomfortable truths and they separated in 1941, eventually divorcing in 1944.

The Five of Wands shows us a battle of egos, people fighting to find out who is strongest. It may be presumptuous to suggest that a battle over egos was what divided this photographic couple, for in reality there were contributing factors outside their control. For example, in line with social convention, women were banned from working in the public service and other occupations in Australia after they married, so as soon as they married Cotton’s status changed.

On top of this was the accepted standard division of labour in which the husband was expected to be the breadwinner and the wife the homemaker and child-bearer. This meant Olive was no longer able to be fully immersed in the social and creative flux of studio life and was removed from the camaraderie and satisfaction that her work as the assistant had previously engendered.

Clearly there were other factors but the collective result was that their marriage did not last long. However, despite this, they did share a long and close personal and professional relationship. An exhibition looks of their work made between 1934 and 1945, the period of their professional association, reveals an exciting period of experimentation and growth in Australian photography. Cotton and Dupain were at the centre of these developments.

Posted in Australian Womens Voices, Female Role Models, Memoir, Writing with Tarot

Beyond Van Dieman’s Land

Van Diemen’s Land was the colonial name of the island of Tasmania used by the British during the European exploration of Australia in the 19th century. A British settlement was established in Van Diemen’s Land in 1803 before it became a separate colony in 1825. Its penal colonies became notorious destinations for the transportation of convicts due to the harsh environment, isolation and reputation for being inescapable. Macquarie Harbour and Port Arthur are among the most well-known penal settlements on the island.

“Sometimes you don’t realize your own strength until you come face to face with your greatest weakness.” – Susan Gale

Strength Card Light Seers Tarot

Between 1788 and 1868 more than 162,000 convicts were transported to Australia. Transportation as a form of criminal punishment emerged in the British legal system from the early 17th century as an alternative to execution.

Many of the crimes for which they were transported are considered minor offenses by today’s standards. The most common crime by far was stealing—food, clothing, money, household items—mostly items worth no more than £5.

One can only imagine how my great great grandmother, Mary Ann Maule, had been living prior to her sentencing after a series of petty thefts. Clearly Mary was no angel but conditions in Liverpool were particularly harsh. Houses were severely overcrowded and the impact of the Great Famine, known as the Irish Famine was profound.

Friedrich Engels was shocked when he visited Liverpool in the 1840s. “Liverpool, with all its commerce, wealth, and grandeur yet treats its workers with the same barbarity. A full fifth of the population, more than 45,000 human beings, live in narrow, dark, damp, badly ventilated cellar dwellings, of which there are 7,862 in the city.

“Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.”– Arnold Schwarzenegger

Having survived the long, perilous journey on board the convict ship, there can be no doubt that life would have been no easier when she arrived in the colony. However, the scarcity of women opened up opportunities for convict women as servants and wives. Many, including Mary Ann, successfully merged into colonial society, creating new families, and through good conduct and hard work forged new lives. Convict women, like my great great grandmother, demonstrated a diversity of character, aspirations and behaviour, which contradicted their stereotype as ‘damned whores’.

Her legacy of strength and fortitude has been far reaching.

Posted in Female Role Models

Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls

From activists and lawyers to pirates and inventors, Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo present young readers with a lifetime’s supply of brilliant female role models.

One hundred extraordinary women are profiled in mini biographies alongside striking full-page portraits by female artists. The unique narrative style transforms each biography into a fairy-tale, filling the readers with wonder and a burning curiosity to know more about each hero. It boasts a brand new graphic design, a glossary and 100 incredible new portraits created by the best female artists of our time.

Countries from across the globe are represented, with around a third of the women from the US. However, Australia has clearly fallen off the radar for no Australian women gets a mention.

To learn more about Australian female role models, through the lens of Tarot, check out the home page here.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls is a collection of 100 one-page stories about women throughout history who broke barriers and achieved great things. Some are well known (at least to parents) and well chronicled, including Cleopatra, Frida Kahlo, Harriet Tubman, Jane Goodall, Joan Jett, and Jane Austen. And some are lesser known (at least in America), such as Matilde Montoya, Mexico’s first female doctor, and Sonita Alizadeh, a 20-year-old rapper from Afghanistan who refused to be sold into marriage and whose song “Brides for Sale” went viral on YouTube.

One story features a transgender American girl who broke barriers at her elementary school. The brief biographical sketches spotlight a telling anecdote about each woman or girl told in simple language, generally in four to six paragraphs in a relatively large font size, making them highly readable. Facing each page is a quote from the featured person and a stylized color portrait by one of 60 contributing female artists from around the world. A spread at the back invites readers to “Write Your Own Story” and “Draw Your Own Portrait.”

The biographies presented on this site are for an older audience.