WHEN Margaret Tan moved to Borneo with her husband more than four decades ago, her career took a very different pathway.
The Australian public service worker could not pursue that field on the rugged island in South East Asia's Malay Archipelago.
Instead Ms Tan got into fine arts; something that had always fascinated her.
Ms Tan began making jewellery using traditional beads and antiquities.
She learned from the native Sarawak people, which had a bead culture dating back more than 1000 years.
"For 10 years I was coming and going between Borneo and my work in Australia until it got too difficult with children and we stayed in Borneo," she said.
During the late 1980s and early 1990s, Ms Tan opened two art galleries in Borneo; the main gallery was in the lobby of the Hilton.
Forty Malaysian and international artists were represented in the galleries.
She also curated exhibitions of Sarawak designs - including her own - in Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Brunei, Japan, the US and Australia.
Ms Tan continued to work with the Sarawak people to preserve their handiwork.
She was involved with the Iban native communities, redesigning traditional baskets into contemporary, colourful storage vessels.
"Some of the skills were being lost," Ms Tan said.
"But we managed to encourage the women to keep it going to provide independence and income for the basket weavers as well as preserving the ancient craft."
Now 70 and living between Borneo and the Border, Ms Tan said she had also added quilts to her craft repertoire.
Born in Sydney to Hungarian parents, Ms Tan said her family had a textiles business in Liverpool during the 1960s.
Later when her parents went into aged care, the siblings acquired mounds of textiles.
Ms Tan said she was eager to use the fabric in her work.
"I just thought a quilt is like a painting but made with materials," she said.
Having bought a house in Wodonga in 2019 to be closer to her children, Ms Tan said the global pandemic allowed her time to work on a range of jewellery and other crafty projects.
Ms Tan will be the feature artist at Chiltern Railroaders and Modellers' annual Craft and Hobby Show at Chiltern on Saturday, November 25, and Sunday, November 26.
She will reveal her exhibition Beads of Borneo, a collection of jewellery handmade using beads from throughout the island, which is shared by the Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak, Indonesian Kalimantan and the tiny nation of Brunei.
"All of the pieces come with a nice card," she said.
"I explain the historic origins of some of the beads or if it's a crystal I explain the healing power of the crystal."
Ms Tan will also display her handmade quilts and imported traditional kaftans at the expo.
Other participants in the expo will be Albury Wodonga Doll and Hobby Group, The Vintage Car Club, Yackandandah Vintage Engine Group, Creature Crafts, Resin Art by Leanne Cator, That Little Place and other stalls.
It runs at Chiltern Goods Shed on Saturday, November 25, 10am to 3pm, and Sunday, November 26, 10am to 2pm.
Entry: $5 adult and children under 12 free.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content:
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.