Phytoplankton is the hottest fashion trend at Mawson research station this winter after an exclusive line of hats went under the hammer.

Australian textile artist Hadley Westwood has again carried on an Antarctic midwinter tradition by donating her bespoke beanies to wintering expeditioners.

Each beanie is carefully crafted, taking around three weeks to create and often designed using images taken by expeditioners.

“I get a thrill out of knitting something and imagining who’s going to end up with it. It’s an exciting gift I can send out into the universe,” Hadley said.

“I don’t sell them, I only knit for people who inspire me.

“I think wintering expeditioners down there are very special people. Mawson is a distant outpost. It’s an amazing place that’s difficult to live in and I want to support the work they do down there.”

She started the Hadley Hats Arts Project in 2019 as a way to pay homage to Sir Douglas Mawson’s ideals of conservation and exploration.

Each year’s work is based on a theme, with the artist settling on phytoplankton (microscopic marine plant-like organisms) this year.

A tour of the Australian Antarctic Division’s krill laboratory also helped weave some ideas into the project.

A close knit community

But there was one problem this year – how to share ten beanies among 15 wintering expeditioners.

A silent auction was held on station to decide whose head would be warmest with the ‘cheapest’ beanie fetching $200 and the most expensive $450.

More than $2600 was raised for charity, most of it for the Push Up Challenge.

“We just feel so blessed to be Mawson expeditioners and the recipients of Hadley’s gorgeous works of art,” Station Leader Rebecca Jeffcoat said.

“We are awed by her skill and artistry and so lucky that she has taken so much time and effort.”

“We will wear them with pride through the winter and at every opportunity thereafter!”

Each beanie also came with a handwritten note as well as a kind letter to the station.

As always, Hadley is happy to see the photos of smiles beneath her beanies.

“I’m thrilled everyone has gone to the effort of raising this money,” she said.

“It’s just a fantastic project and I’m very lucky. I’ll keep doing it as long as I can.”