Meet the recipients of the INSPIRE Writer in Residence initiative 2022-23

INSPIRE offers five emerging or established Western Australian writers a stipend of $5000 each and a residency for up to 15 days in a National Trust heritage place.

Now in its third year, the INSPIRE Writer in Residence initiative is a partnership between the National Trust of Western Australia and the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries.

The five successful writers for 2022-23 are:

  • Portland Jones, residency at Peninsula Farm at Wu-rut Woorat, Maylands
  • Rachel Robertson, residency at East Perth Cemeteries at Martellup, East Perth
  • Scott-Patrick Mitchell, residency at Woodbridge, Woodbridge
  • Matthew Chrulew, residency at East Perth Cemeteries at Martellup, East Perth, and No 1 Pump Station at Minderinjy, Mundaring
  • Josephine Wilson, residency at Curtin Family Home on Whadjuk Country, Cottesloe.

“We are delighted to be entering into a third round of INSPIRE residencies,” said National Trust of Western Australia CEO, Julian Donaldson.

“Connecting artists with heritage is an important way to take a new look at the shared stories that bind us and connect generations. The National Trust values the perspectives that the INSPIRE Writer in Residence program brings to our understanding of ourselves today as West Australians.”

There are an exciting range of proposals from this new cohort of writers in residence and we are looking forward to learning more about the work INSPIRE will help them accomplish.”

The assessment panel commented on the high calibre of applications, and commended the National Trust of Western Australia on providing a vital opportunity for writers to invest their time into unlocking the stories of our state’s history. The panel included:

  • David Whish Wilson, Creative writing, Curtin University, author, winner of Patricia Hackett’s prize for Literature
  • Lucy Dougan, PhD, Poetry, Editor, winner of West Australia Premier’s Award for Poetry.
  • Cate Sutherland, Publisher, Fremantle Press
  • William Yeoman, journalist, writers’ festival director.

The INSPIRE residency offers opportunities for research, creative and professional development, encourages excellence in writing and nurtures connections to publishers. Through immersion in the rich cultural heritage the properties offer, INSPIRE aims to generate new Western Australian stories, as well as bring a fresh eye to interpretation and engagement with our history and heritage.

The 2022–23 INSPIRE residencies will take place between October 2022 and April 2023.

Writers’ biographies and research proposals

Portland Jones will be in residence at Peninsula Farm at Wu-rut Woorat, Maylands

Portland Jones is a horse trainer, academic and writer who lives and works in the Swan Valley.

Her first novel, Seeing the Elephant, was published by Margaret River Press and was shortlisted for the City of Fremantle Hungerford Award in 2016. Only Birds Above was published by Fremantle Press in 2022 and was recently long listed for the ARA Historical Novel Award. Portland has also written non-fiction and is currently working on her third novel.

Portland’s research proposal

“For an historical novelist your own family is a rich seam to mine for stories. My great-great grandfather, John Kirk, arrived in WA as a convict in 1865 aboard the Vimeira. My name, Portland, he gave to his first-born daughter and was the port in England from which the Vimeira sailed. I’ve always felt a connection with John because he was a blacksmith and worked with horses, as I do. The Vimeira‘s manifest also records that he was literate and had lost a toe in an accident – another connection, as I have similarly lost a thumb.

The novel I am currently working on, Things of Whim and Bone, is partly set in Perth in the 1860s. The opportunity to immerse myself in the history of the Peninsula Farm building is very exciting. In the 1950s and ‘60s the farm was used to keep and train racehorses and this, to me, feels like another significant connection.

I am fascinated by the stories that are not always privileged by official histories, by the stories of women and those of the original custodians of the land, the Whadjuk Noongar people. I’m also interested in the mighty Derbarl Yerrigan, which flows past the farm, it is both constant and ever changing and reminds me that against the backdrop of nature our own lives are insignificant.”

 

Rachel Robertson will be in residence at East Perth Cemeteries at Martellup, East Perth

Rachel Robertson is a Western Australian writer who teaches creative and professional writing at Curtin University. Rachel is the author of Reaching One Thousand and co-editor of Purple Prose and Dangerous Ideas about Mothers. She writes creative non-fiction, including memoir and lyric essay, and her research interests include life writing, Australian literature, and disability.

Rachel’s research proposal

“During my residency, I will research and write about the lives and deaths of those buried at the Cemeteries, combining the results of my research with my own experiences and imagination to create a set of lyric essays that trigger readers to reconsider aspects of their own lives. The lyric essay is a protean form that allows writers to evoke and explore aspects of personal story and individual subjective experience while also addressing more general and abstract ideas. I recognise that part of our task in life is to learn how to grieve and how to support others in coping with grief and loss. A collection of lyric essays inspired by the East Perth Cemeteries seems a fitting way to do this.”

 

Scott-Patrick Mitchell will be in residence at Woodbridge at Mandoon, Woodbridge

Scott-Patrick Mitchell is a queer non-binary poet, writer and educator who lives in Boorloo, Western Australia. SPM’s work appears in Contemporary Australian PoetryStories of Perth and Solid Air. Their first collection, Clean (Upswell, 2022), is an exploration of recovery and reconnection to family, identity and ecology. Mitchell is also the current recipient of the 2022 Red Room Poetry Fellowship with a project that explores Perth Canyon and West Australian beaches and beach culture.

Scott-Patrick’s research proposal

“I will be researching how joy and nostalgia manifest in the archive, particularly as it pertains to Woodbridge House. I will explore the archives, looking for moments of joy and bringing them to life. In particular I will be exploring moments of joy as they pertain to family, the joyful play engaged in by the Harper children, the joy of seeing freight ships coming down the Derbarl Yerrigan (laden with furniture) and the joy of celebrating milestones (Christmas, dinner parties, dances, birthdays). Particular attention will be given to a display case filled with ephemera discovered in a cavity under the stairs in the tower, which includes an old football, pom-poms and a handmade paper crown.

I will aim to produce a collection of 12 or more prose poems that span the history of Woodbridge House, connecting the reader to history in a way that communicates the multiplicity of joy, and how it can be found in the smallest moments.”

Image: David Cox Media

 

Matthew Chrulew will be in residence at East Perth Cemeteries at Martellup, East Perth, and No 1 Pump Station at Minderinjy, Mundaring

Dr Matthew Chrulew is a writer and researcher from Perth, Western Australia. His fiction has appeared in Westerly, Cosmos, Ecopunk! and The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror, and his essays in Island, New Literary History, SubStance and Biosemiotics. In 2022, he edited the anthology Phase Change: Imagining Energy Futures (Twelfth Planet Press), and his short story collection Future Perfect, and Other Worldly Tenses was longlisted in the City of Fremantle Hungerford Award. He was founding associate editor of Environmental Humanities journal and edits the book series Animalities at Edinburgh University Press. He is Senior Research Fellow in the School of Media, Creative Arts and Social Inquiry at Curtin University, where he leads the Posthumanties, Animalities, Environments research program in the Centre for Culture and Technology. In 2022 he was Visiting Professor at the École normale supérieure, France.

Matthew’s research proposal

“Reel is a mosaic novel that explores Perth’s histories and futures through themes of energy, infrastructure, development and abandonment. Set around the South Fremantle Power Station, the novel uses Perth’s power grid and water pipelines to thematise the dilemmas of cultural and natural heritage. It focuses on the ways in which the built and natural environment serve as both receptacles and wellsprings of cultural meaning, and the ways in which emerging visions of the future are shaped by the past, particularly in times of transition and conflict around energy use. Set in the postmodern period of abandonment between the power stations’ operational eras (East Perth 1916–81; South Fremantle 1951–85) and their current redevelopments, the novel explores the historical legacies of industrial development, the tolls of transition between energy regimes, and the meaning of ‘natural-historical’ heritage in which nature and culture are entangled in an era of transformation between the ‘petromodern’ past and the ‘renewable’ future.”

 

Josephine Wilson will be in residence at the Curtin Family Home on Whadjuk Country, Cottesloe

Josephine Wilson’s novel Extinctions (UWA Publishing, 2016) won the 2017 Miles Franklin Award, the Colin Roderick Award, and was nominated for the Prime Minister’s Literature Award. Her first novel was Cusp (UWA Publishing, 2005). Her creative output includes performance, poetry, essay and reviews. She is a Lecturer in English and Creative Arts at Murdoch University.

Josephine’s project sets out to respond to the Jarrad Street home of Prime Minister John Curtin. She will draw on fragments of archival material and the material traces of imagined domestic life in the Curtin family’s former residence, to fashion a long poetic text.

 

For more information about INSPIRE, contact the Writer in Residence Coordinator.