On the Couch with Caroline Martin

Yirramboi Caroline Martin - photo by Steven RhallWho is Caroline Martin?
I am a great granddaughter, daughter, sister, niece, mother, aunty, cousin and friend; but in order to hold that space for the significant people in my life, I am first and foremost a proud Yalukit Willam Woman of the Boonwurrung, equally proud Koorie Victorian and Creative Director of YIRRAMBOI First Nations Festival.

What would you do differently to what you do now?
I’d spend more precious time with my precious sons, Jaeden, Marbee and Ngarra – I certainly wouldn’t sweat the small stuff arghhh!

Who inspires you and why?
I’ve been gifted a significant cultural memory that has been handed down to me from my great, great grandmother Louisa Briggs, my grandmother Carrie Briggs, my Aunt Eva Briggs and the strongest woman I’m privileged to have in my life everyday, my mum Carolyn Briggs. Through their many and continued adversities as sovereign women they persisted, and continue to persist. The absolute strength and pride of who I am today comes from these strong and resilient arweet murni-gurrk (old wise women).

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
Lead by example, live with respect, be kind and instil kindness for all living things; people, animals, our waterways and country – it seems so simple but imagine a world that treated all life with respect and kindness.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
Greece – I love absolutely everything about Greece, the country, people and of course the food. I had the opportunity to be part of a collaboration between the Powerhouse Museum and Museum Victoria, when I was the Manager of Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre at Melbourne Museum, to host an exhibition titled: Our Place, Indigenous Australia Now, curated by Steve Miller. The exhibition was Australia’s gift representing Australia in Athens Cultural Olympiad program for the 2004 Olympic Games.

The exhibition was ground breaking in that it dealt with the realities of what continues to be an open wound in Australia but done so in a way that showed the world the beauty, sophistication, strength and resilience of who we continue to be in honour of our Ancestors and vibrant living cultures. The Greek community were in awe of our history and survival, proud of us and in-turn enabled a pride in truth telling that was not seen and embraced in Australia at that time – this experience is indelibly etched in my memory, in Greece I felt safe to be me without question. I also absolutely love Florence in Italy, just because it’s Florence.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
I have a couple, I encourage all visitors to experience the international and national multi-award winning First Peoples exhibition at Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre – this exhibition is the only one in the world that shares the history, of the 38 different language groups that now make up Koorie Victoria, uniquely shared through the voices of Koorie Victoria, that hopefully inspires the visitor to want to physically explore of Victoria more. Advocating for this exhibition and managing the Koorie community engagement process is one of my most significant achievements to date outside of bringing to life my three magnificent sons, nothing will top that!

My absolute MUST for all visitors is Claypots on Acland Street, St Kilda, I love absolutely everything about this place, the food, the live music but most of all the generous hospitality shared by Renan, Viv and Neelam – they make the whole experience absolutely magnificent!

What are you currently reading?
The YIRRAMBOI website, as is it provides me daily inspiration – with over 100 events, showcasing more than 200 Creatives – it’s jammed packed full of inspiration.

In my downtime, which doesn’t seem like much, given we’re a week out from the Festival opening, however to keep my sanity, I have two books on the go: The Courage to be Disliked and the Maya Angelou’s number 6 out 8 Autobiographies.

What are you currently listening to?
Anything and everything my sons share with me, as per the gentle request of ‘listen to this mum’ or ‘have you heard this’…..a lot of my music is now inspired by their young ears, hearts and minds  but I absolutely can’t go past the family favourite, NAHKO, Medicine For the People.

Happiness is?
Not sweating the small stuff and being surrounded by family and friends – I’m also happy in my alone time.

What does the future hold for you?
My immediate future finds me and team YIRRAMBOI getting ready to open YIRRAMBOI First Nations Festival (2 – 12 May) and after that I’ll be taking some well-earned time out, hopefully a holiday in Greece and sneaky fly over to Florence with family and friends.

And after the holiday, my company, Yalukit Marnang in partnership with ILBIJERRI Theatre Company will begin work to realise a three year project generously funded by the state, titled: BAGURRK – a ground-breaking First Nations Theatre project that will bring to life the untold stories of tenacious women who defied great odds to keep their families, community and cultures alive, inspired by the strength and resilience of my great, great grandmother Louisa Briggs.

Caroline is the Creative Director of YIRRAMBOI First Nations Festival – which takes place across Melbourne: 2 – 12 May 2019. For more information, visit: www.yirramboi.net.au for details.

Image: Caroline Martin – photo by Steven Rhall