2013-14 State Library Creative Fellowships announced

14 June 2013

Today the State Library of Victoria announces the recipients of the 2013-14 Creative Fellowships, a program started ten years ago to foster the creative use of the State Library’s collections and resources. 

This year 15 paid and one honorary fellowships were awarded with a total value of $242,500 – the largest sum ever offered through the program. Included in this number were four Dome Centenary Fellowships awarded this year to commemorate 100 years of the Library’s domed reading room. These fellows will each receive $25,000 to create projects that encourage new visitors to the State Library.

The Redmond Barry Fellowship ($20,000), La Trobe Society Fellowship ($12,500) and Georges Mora Foundation Fellowship ($10,000) are also awarded this year.

Among the 2013-14 creative fellows are authors, biographers, artists, musicians, composers, documentary makers, comic book artists, puppeteers, choral directors, performance poets, and historians – a broad and eclectic group.   

CEO and State Librarian Sue Roberts said the fellowships represented a significant investment in creative endeavour in Victoria.

'In the ten years since it began more than 140 fellows have been supported through the Creative Fellowships program with over $1.5 million provided to fund their research.

This year our fellows range from household names like Kaz Cooke and Mike Brady to people whose work has never been in the public eye – this reflects the diversity of the applications and open nature of the program.

The creative fellows bring our collections to life in new ways. The new work they create – be it books, artwork, music, film or performance – adds to Victoria's significant cultural offering and enriches us all.
The broad range of fellowships offered this year is only possible through the support of the State Library of Victoria Foundation and fellowships partners, the University of Melbourne, the La Trobe Society and the Georges Mora Foundation. Each organisation understands the value of independent creative scholarship and the important role libraries play in it.'

2013-14 Creative Fellows

State Library of Victoria Creative Fellowships

Funded by the State Library of Victoria Foundation, the Library offers several Creative Fellowships annually to artists and scholars who propose thoughtful and innovative ways to use the Library’s collection. Applicants may be individuals or be working in collaborative partnerships. They may include artists practising in any art form (such as visual arts, new media, dance, musical performance or composition), and historians, writers and scholars in any discipline or subject. Each of the 2013-14 Creative Fellowships is funded for three months with a grant of $12,500. In addition the library provides private offices for the fellows to work in. Research projects can be in any area of the Library’s collections and are open to all Australian residents.

1. Kaz Cooke: Raiment and regalia (or) What have you come as? Allegiances from footy jumpers to hens' night tiaras. Installation, blog and article.
How have the people of Victoria chosen to present themselves, wearing objects to signal allegiance or belonging? Insignia has evolved or been invented to show ethnic, tribal, political, job or class affiliations. The ceremonial sash, for example, has morphed from sword holster to footy jumpers, Queen Elizabeth’s wattle gown (worn in Melbourne in 1954), rural show livestock prizes and hens’ night accessory. I’ll research the history and display of objects from tribal artefacts, vice-regal awards, union rosettes, patriotic badges and non-military uniforms (including aprons). Regalia can say ‘join us’, be code only for insiders, or personify ostentation. Traditionally excluded from bestowment, women and rural folk have created DIY regalia from agricultural show prize ribbons to ‘princess for a day’ wedding gear. I plan to create my own artwork, in drawings and other media, to respond to chosen objects and the feelings they evoke. As well as an exhibition I’d like to create a blog for the Library showing the discoveries made along the way, promote more public awareness of The changing face of Victoria or other exhibition spaces, and write an article for publication.

2. Joanne Oliver: Etched with love and courage: the life and work of Jessie Traill, Australian printmaker, 1881–1967.  Biographical book manuscript.

Traill was perhaps the most accomplished Australian woman etcher of the 20th-century, working in a field uncommon for women of her time. She was a person of courage and deep humanitarian conviction who served in World War I and mentored a new generation of Australian printmakers. Traill was a lifelong friend of Tom Roberts and Violet Teague. She attended the National Gallery School in Melbourne during 1901–06, and studied and exhibited etchings in Paris and in London throughout 1907–09. In 1909 she held her first solo exhibition in Melbourne. During World War I she was a member of the British Voluntary Aid Detachment in France. Traill frequently travelled overseas and in Australia seeking subjects for her work. She was the first white artist to exhibit in central Australia in 1928. Her etchings show a love for the Australian landscape and fascination with the modernist industrial projects of the interwar years. Many of her prints are held in the Australian National Gallery collection. During the 1940s she taught etching to Arthur Boyd, Franz Kempf and Fred Williams, impacting a new generation of Australian artists. Traill continued to work in her studio at Berwick, east of Melbourne. Her work as an artist is a legacy of her love for the Australian landscape, and her humanitarian and mentoring work of her care and compassion for people.

3. Rachel Buchanan: The Melbourne Sirius. Artist newspaper.

Printing presses are closing and circulations are falling. Broadsheets are shrinking, websites expanding. Hundreds of newspaper people – reporters, subeditors, paper-makers, printers, press photographers, designers and newsagents – are losing their jobs. On Swanston Street, newsstands now sell cactuses, umbrellas and hair extensions. As Australia enters the final era of the mass manufacturing of newspapers, this project will celebrate endangered or defunct non-news content in papers: editorial cartooning, situations vacant advertisements and other classifieds, obituaries, the shipping news, the weather, women’s pages, children’s pages, page-three girls, editorials, letters to the editor, press photography, newspaper names and masthead design, and more. The project will use the State Library of Victoria’s newspaper and manuscript collections to conceive, write, design, layout, edit, publish and distribute several editions of a tabloid (or slightly smaller) artist newspaper, The Melbourne Sirius. One format being considered is a front and back page with fold-out middle. Public performances, such as the production of billboards and distribution of newspapers, will enhance awareness of the Library’s collections and newspaper history, and contribute to public debates about the future of newspapers. The papers themselves will be a whimsical, unorthodox and beautiful addition to the Library’s collection of artist books.

4. Mike Brady and Brenton Broadstock: The road. Music theatre work.

The goal is to create an original work – a hybrid of musical and opera for small orchestra, chorus and soloists. The libretto will be sourced from primary documents, letters and newspaper reports. The work will be called The road and will be the story of a Chinese family who arrive at Robe, South Australia, in the 1850s and march to the goldfields of Victoria to seek their fortune, along with thousands of other Chinese who arrived at this time. The story will highlight the struggles of their journey – the physical difficulties, deprivation, lack of food and the constant racism from ‘white’ and ‘non-white’ settlers – and their integration into goldfield society on their arrival. Chinese music will be incorporated into the work. The Chinese played such an important – now largely forgotten – role in the early development of Victoria; this work will, in a small way, attempt to pay tribute to that contribution.

5. Adrian McNeil: Making history audible in the dome: coloniality and the intercultural songs of Sourindro Mohan Tagore.  Musical performance.

Sourindro Mohan Tagore (1840–1914) sent a collection of books and musical instruments from Calcutta to Melbourne in the late 1870s. The books are now part of the collection of the State Library of Victoria, along with other correspondence with SM Tagore. These innovative works reflect the spirit of the times and especially the interculturalism that pervaded the Bengali elite classes in the late 19th century, a time referred to in India as the Bengali renaissance.  Among the eight books in the collection is Fifty tunes, composed and set to music (Calcutta: IC Bose & Co., 1878). These ‘tunes’ are loosely based on ragas and were intended for intercultural interpretation. As far as I am aware these are no records of any public performance of these tunes. The main activity of this project will be to set a selection of these tunes to a contemporary intercultural ensemble fusing Indian and Western instruments and idioms to be performed in the dome. The performance would include a display of the hybrid instruments Tagore sent (currently at Monash University) and also public seminars on his musical legacy. The performances in 2014 will coincide with the 100th anniversary of SM Tagore’s death.

6. Nicole Lindsay: John Byng: a Yankee blackfellow in old Melbourne town. Biographical book manuscript.

The project will attempt to uncover the extent of non-white settlement in pre–gold-rush Melbourne through the story of African-American publican John Byng. Recent historical scholarship has revealed the extent of non-native ‘people of colour’ among convicts and gold-rush immigrants, but their presence in early Melbourne is unwritten and their number unknown. John Byng, one of Melbourne’s earliest publicans, came to the Port Phillip settlement some time before April 1839 when he is first recorded applying for a licence for the Victoria Inn. He died in 1858 in Kyneton, thus his life in Australia corresponds roughly with that of Charles La Trobe. Significantly, Byng was an African-American, who came to Australia from Digby, Nova Scotia in Canada, where his father – a freed slave – settled after the American Revolution. I would also like to investigate La Trobe’s attitude to the immigration of ‘men of colour’ to Melbourne, given his experience working with emancipated slaves in the West Indies before he came to the Port Phillip colony. Byng appears to have thrived in Melbourne, owning several pubs and placing advertisements in newspapers. Significantly, the colour of his skin is never mentioned in official documents or newspaper records.

7. Max Allen: Not forgetting yous at all: Barak and the de Purys.  Book manuscript or documentary.

This project examines the close personal friendship between Wurundjeri ngurungaeta, William Barak, and the de Pury family, Swiss settlers at the forefront of the 19th-century Yarra Valley wine boom. It looks at the historical context of the relationship – in particular the brief hopeful period in the 1870s when both grapes in the settlers’ vineyards and hops on the Aboriginal farm at Corranderk flourished in the region. It was a time when – in the words of Barak’s descendent Aunty Joy Murphy – the land provided for two cultures, side by side. The project explores how the connection between these two cultures was recorded for posterity in oil paint and ochre in young Victor de Pury’s sensitive 1899 portrait of Barak, and also the older man’s extraordinary, little-known image of Samuel de Pury’s vineyard, drawn the year before. The project is an attempt to reconnect the two cultures in this year, 2013, the 150th anniversary of both the establishment of Corranderk and the de Pury family’s Yeringberg vineyard.

8. Bernard Caleo and Alex McDermott: Faust in Melbourne: the Devil collects.  Print, ebook comic and narrative performance.

The outcome of the project will be a comic book set in Melbourne in 1888. This is the year in which the ‘long boom’ following the gold rush begins to spiral out of control, leading to the crash of the 1890s. The comic book will foreground the manic energy and feverish speculation of this period. The death of the opera singer ‘Federici’ (real name Frederick Baker) on stage at the Princes Theatre on the 3 March 1888, as he is singing the role of Mephistopheles in a production of Faust, gives us a wonderful story hook on which to hang the argument that Melbourne’s boom years had been the product of a Faustian deal that the 19th-century has made with itself, and which has now entered its endgame. Other projected figures in our narrative will be a young Alfred Deakin (who shared with Federici an interest in spiritualism and was the co-premier who presided over the later stages of the boom) and Maurice Brodzky (editor and publisher of Table Talk, a society/scandal/arts magazine that from 1888 became the one Melbourne journal critical of the inflated growth of the period).


Dome Centenary Fellowships

Funded by the State Library of Victoria Foundation, these four fellowships carry a grant of $25,000 for projects in any field of inquiry that will attract members of the Victorian community not already engaged with the Library. Applications were invited from individuals or community groups, and outcomes could include performances within the dome.

1. Penelope Bartlau: Liberty of the press. Puppetry and children’s workshops.
Barking Spider Visual Theatre (BSVT) is completely inspired by Matilda Butters’ famous ‘press dress’ and the rich possibilities it holds as a springboard into research and artistic creation. Liberty of the press will be an exploration of: the life of the dress’ creator, the events at which the dress was presented during her lifetime, and the stories that appear in the newspaper panels from which the dress is made. We will create an art installation, constructed completely of newspaper, that reflects our research discoveries. This installation will be presented in segments: the major segment within the dome room itself, and others segments hidden in unexpected places within the Library – such as within the spiral staircase. We will create: a map for visitors to follow to discover the installations, a newspaper puppetry performance called Paper-crinolined ladies: a roaming performance in the dome (to take place around the art installation in the dome and throughout other areas of the Library, with artists dressed in interior-lit, dome-shaped newspaper crinolines that reflect the press dress and the shape of the dome itself), sound design and percussion to support the performances, and workshops for families and/or schools in puppetry and costume creation from newspaper.

2. David Allen: The Qubdi Project: Somali families under the dome. A community engagement and oral history project.

The project has simple objectives: to reach out and engage with the Somali community of Victoria, and to bring families into the Library and seed a collection of authentic Somali materials. These objectives will be realised through direct personal contact with the members of 10–15 families representative of the Somali community of Victoria. The families will be invited into the Library to familiarise themselves with the building and resources, before engaging in several activities. Children (up to age 12) will be invited to draw or create an image of their impression of the qubdi (dome). Parents and older family members will be interviewed and assisted to create an account of their family’s history prior and subsequent to their arrival in Australia. There will be a launch of the results of the Qubdi Project held under the dome, which will feature the children’s drawings in an audio-visual presentation integrated into a narrative of the project, followed by readings of selected family stories. A significant intangible objective is to reshape Somali knowledge and perceptions of the State Library.

3. Carolyn Watson: The Dome Centenary Choir: a celebration of Australia’s choral music heritage.  Community engagement and public performance.

The project will marry the Library’s extensive holdings in Australian choral music with the institution itself as a public venue and performance space. To mark the centenary of the Library, a component of my project will be the formation of a community choir, the Dome Centenary Choir, with whom I will work in a series of choral workshops.   The Library’s collection of choral music – in particular the works of Arthur Benjamin, Peggy Glanville-Hicks, Miriam Hyde and John Carmichael – will form the basis of my research. Through researching, analysing and categorising, the principal aim of my project is to compile an annotated bibliography of the Library’s holdings of Australian choral works. Concurrent with this scholarly research, I will work to translate the findings into practice. I would like to hold free choral singing workshops, lectures and discovery sessions, open to all who may wish to attend, thereby involving members of the public. Our voice is the musical instrument with which we are all born, and Australian choral music is a wonderful introduction to singing. In contrast to European choral literature, for example, the text is in the vernacular, the subject matter is familiar and the harmonic language ensures the work’s accessibility.

4. Alicia Sometimes, Emilie Zoey Baker and Sean Whelan: ‘Capital: the beginning of the word’ – a poetic history of the State Library of Victoria. Performance work, recorded music and installation.

Three writers, one video artist and two musicians will collaborate to produce this unique multimedia work to be developed and performed to celebrate the centenary of the domed reading room. It will culminate in a live performance at the Library; audiences will also hear works via ‘silent disco’ headsets. Capital will also take form as a legacy audio artwork CD and video, with other legacy potentialities built into the project design. The three lead writers will research the history of the State Library and utilise the Library’s resources to tell stories of the dome based on the past and possible futures. The writers will create stories based on research from the reading room’s vast collection, in addition to creating stories about the HV McKay Planetarium and the Melbourne Museum (as it was, when based at the Library site). The writers will also liaise with Library staff to ensure they access all available library resources.

The Redmond Barry Fellowship

Jointly sponsored by the University of Melbourne and the State Library of Victoria, this fellowship is named in honour of Sir Redmond Barry (1813–80), a founder of both these institutions. The 2013 fellowship, worth up to $20,000 and including a residency of three to six months, is awarded to scholars and writers to facilitate research and the production of works of literature that use the collections of the Library and the University of Melbourne. The fellowship is open to Australian and overseas scholars and writers.

Marguerita Stephens: Assistant Protector William Thomas and the Kulin people, 1839–1867: ‘the end of things’?  Book manuscript.

The objective of the project is the composition and publication of a publicly accessible, single volume narrative of the life and work of Assistant Aboriginal Protector and later Guardian of Aborigines William Thomas, and his wife Susannah, with the Kulin people from 1839 to 1867.

The La Trobe Society Fellowship

Funded by the La Trobe Society, this fellowship is awarded for historical research in the period of Charles Joseph La Trobe’s tenure as Superintendent of the Port Phillip District and later Lieutenant Governor of the Colony of Victoria (1839–53). The fellowship is for a period of three months with a grant of $12,500.

Madonna Grehan: An émigré gentlewoman midwife in Port Phillip and Victoria 1848–80. A biographical history.

The project will support research for a history of women, maternity care and family life in mid–19th-century Victoria. It is seen through the lens of Sarah Barfoot, an émigré midwife who in 1848 joined the diaspora from Van Diemen’s Land to the District of Port Phillip. Women at that time gave birth at home, with most attended by female midwives. But colonial midwives had a terrible reputation, courtesy of Charles Dickens’ disreputable and ignorant character Sarah Gamp in his novel Martin Chuzzlewit. Sarah Barfoot, by contrast, was a literate and articulate London-born gentlewoman, who had run a bookshop and circulating library in Edinburgh before gaining formal qualifications in midwifery and the care of women. Married three times (widowed twice) and with nine children, Mrs Barfoot’s remarkable story places a spotlight on the workings of Victoria’s nascent administration, revealing fortunes and misfortunes amid the rush for gold, and the challenges presented by a rapidly rising population. Through her multiple roles as a wife, widow, mother, practising midwife and citizen in the early years of Port Phillip/Colony of Victoria, this history will reveal the complexity of everyday life for its women residents.

La Trobe Society Honorary Fellowship

Caroline Clemente: Thomas Woolner: a Pre-Raphaelite artist in Melbourne. A series of scholarly articles.

It was due to his Melbourne patrons that the Pre-Raphaelite sculptor Thomas Woolner, one of seven original Brethren, revived his art and was launched on the way to fame and fortune. Lieutenant-Governor Charles La Trobe and friends in the Howitt circle offered the penniless but brilliant young artist commissions and introductions to their Sydney connections that turned out to be equally fruitful. The resulting portrait medallions of antipodean notables provided Woolner with his ‘seeding capital’, as he termed it, and the basis of a trajectory that culminated in his dominance of the notoriously difficult field of sculpture in Victorian-era Britain. Amounting to a gallery of the great and the good of early colonial life, Woolner’s Australian output has never to date been viewed as a whole. I aim to bring together these works of art, of which the State Library of Victoria has the largest holding, and place them in their social, artistic and historical context. My research will include a detailed catalogue of Woolner’s individual sculptures with technical data of facture and framing. I intend to produce this scholarship in the form of a book, an online catalogue and an exhibition at State Library.

Georges Mora Foundation Fellowship

The Georges Mora Foundation Fellowship allows an artist of repute to explore new thinking and research new ideas.The recipient is awarded up to $10,000 for six months' research and given the means and uninterrupted time to work closely with the rich resources of the Library, including access to a private study within the Library, which can be used outside normal opening hours. Also, the Georges Mora Foundation can help the fellow apply for a residency in France at the Centre Intermondes in La Rochelle. The fellow may also apply for a residency at the Alliance Française de Melbourne.
The fellowship is funded by the Georges Mora Foundation and awarded in association with the Alliance Francaise de Melbourne.

Brook Andrew and Trent Walter: Dual/duel. Artists’ books.

The project will simultaneously create and interrogate pictorial connections and explore the implications of these associations to form new narratives about how we explain the history they conjure. It will result in the creation of four large artists’ books that combine hand-printed and mechanical-reproduction printing techniques suitable for exhibition.

View all previous Creative Fellows here.

Information about the Dome Centenary and associated programs is available here.


Media inquiries

Matthew van Hasselt or Georgina Smart
State Library of Victoria, 03 8664 7263, media@slv.vic.gov.au
328 Swanston Street
Melbourne Victoria 3000