Some people love to cross their home country in an RV. The combination of open road and love of travelling make it the dream for many. In fact, it’s the retirement plan of many people in North America. But on the other side of the world, in Australia, a man has turned his love of travel into an art project unlike any on his continent.
Basil Smith, an Australian by way of England, has spent his life making beautiful, intricately-detailed caravans reminiscent of the Romani people in Europe. His work combines the bright colours and rounded shapes of the caravans with his own special touches, and he and his wife spend much of their retirement travelling around Australia, and living in one of their caravans.
Basil Smith grew up in England and doubtlessly saw and encountered Romani people during his childhood. He developed a fascination for their nomadic lifestyle and caravans and has since turned that fascination into a hobby.
Most of Basil’s caravans start with recycled material, from which he designs a caravan to build. He apprenticed with hand tools and still does the majority of the work by hand to this day. Basil isn’t alone in his pursuit, either. His wife helps him with designing and building each caravan, and has a particular skill for the special window stylings of the Romani caravans. Basil provides her with the plans and she makes them a reality, making every caravan a real team effort. The end result of all their hard work is a wholly unique caravan that he and his wife often take on road trips around the country.
While many people are attracted to the exterior, which he paints in bright colours and adorns with intricate designs, it’s the interior living space that really makes the difference. Basil includes all the necessities of modern living in his caravans, despite the fact they are often much smaller than their Romani counterparts. Inside, the walls are decorated with beautiful cloth and there’s space for a bed, a place to cook, and more, in almost every single one.
As far as hobbies go, the Smiths’ love of travel, recycled material caravans, and staying active is a great idea. They have also turned a popular way to spend retirement, on the road in an RV, into an artistic pursuit, one that embraces the aesthetics of an important group of people in Europe. It shows that many of the things we have an enjoy have long, rich, and varied histories that weave together art and function. For Basil and his wife, it’s the love of travel and the rich culture of the Romani people.