In Conversation: Author Cassy Liberman
What does one do when faced with what they feel is a dearth of literature surrounding strong female role models? If you are Cassie Liberman, you take matters into your own hands and produce a colourful, clever and empowering picture book series about Inspirational Australian Women.
A conversation with Cassy reveals a strong, intelligent and fascinating individual who is passionate about her work as a writer. She relates being puzzled by how little information was available about female role models within the Australian lexicon. Having devoted a great deal of time reading biographies of such women she could easily name a dozen examples, if not more, and yet, most people she encountered struggled to name one or two.
With vision, creativity and passion Liberman embarked on a project to write about female role models. A common thread throughout her books is the story of determination and respect. As an author Cassy sets out to empower her young readers to choose their own pathway.
Cassy’s book ‘Fighting for Freedom’ introduces us to the heroic Nancy Wake – a determined and independent young woman with the makings of a celebrated heroine. As a foreign correspondent in Paris, she began reporting on the ominous signs of Germany’s increasing antagonism to Jews, gypsies and anyone they considered different. As she witnessed the rise of Hitler, Nancy decided to fight for the people who were being persecuted. She risked her life numerous times and after the war was awarded for her bravery by many countries. She was honoured for her courage, amazing vitality, self-belief and moral strength during WWII within the Resistance movement.
Cassy’s book ‘Wildflower’ is an introduction to the inspirational life and exquisite artwork of Ellis Rowan, an incredibly talented and skilful Australian artist of the late 19th and early 20th century. At a time when it was not common for women to travel extensively, nor independently, Ellis courageously travelled through Australia and New Guinea on her own. She set out to record the exotic beauty of the plants, flowers and birds which she saw around her.
When discussing the women by whom she has been inspired by in her own life, Cassy describes being “hugely” influenced by the Jewish post-Holocaust women in Melbourne. For us life is told through stories, memory, and culture – based on remembrance and example. The strength of these Melbourne Jewish role models, who provide the staunch backbone of their families, and their commitment to rebuilding together with their male counterparts are profoundly inspirational. This monumental effort to rebuild cannot have occurred without the courage and partnership of decisive, vibrant women, and thus the female perspective of these experiences is fundamental. Contemporary, strong women who never tried to be anything besides themselves in a man’s world, and their warmth, strength, resilience and humanity are the fibres of the colourful tapestry that is Jewish life today in Australia and around the world today.
Both of Cassy Liberman’s books ‘Fighting for Freedom’ and ‘Wildflower’ are available for purchase in the Museum shop.
Written by Miriam New, Museum Marketing Intern