Canberra-based writer Lucy Nelson was awarded the 2014 Templeberg Residential Writing Fellowship at The Salon this evening.
The one-month fellowship will send Nelson to Templeberg Villa in Galle, in the Southern Province of Sri Lanka, before the end of this year.
Nelson has won a return airfare from Melbourne to Colombo in Sri Lanka, a 30-day tourist visa, internal transfer costs, accommodation, full board (all meals) and an A$1,000 spending allowance.
Nelson will use her time there to work on a novel-length manuscript set within rural Sri Lanka about secrets that make slaves of their keepers. “There is nothing that could more usefully serve the development of my project than being plunged into its spicy, sticky setting,” she said.
Having spent six years as an ‘adopted’ member of a Sinhalese family in Melbourne (including some time in rural Sri Lanka learning to speak Sinhala amidst extended family), Nelson says that the sensory awakening she experienced there has continued to haunt her. “Through this project, I am attempting to capture the evocative elements of that culture, and to use this landscape of quiet constant rhythms as a complementary setting to a narrative that is both gripping and lingering,” she explains.
Eleven writers were shortlisted for the residency, which attracted high-quality applications from writers from nearly all states and territories of Australia.
“Writers in Australia are so fortunate to have opportunities like this one and I’m incredibly grateful to have been considered,” Nelson said upon receiving the fellowship.
The international fellowship is a philanthropic initiative of the Australian based owners of Templeberg Vila, Christopher Shields and Brent Carey.
“Both Brent and I are delighted to offer this fellowship again this year, with Lucy as the recipient,” Shields said. ‘'As a philanthropic contribution, this long-term commitment to the Australian writing community is fairly modest, but our hope is that the funding will contribute positively to the lives of Australian writers and our adopted home of Sri Lanka.”
“It is very important to us that the fellowship will allow an Australian writer to pursue their artistic endeavors but to also reach out and touch and be touched by the landscape and people of Sri Lanka,” Shields said.
An international judging panel was chaired by acclaimed Sri Lankan-based author Royston Ellis, along with Victorian travel writer Michelle Aung Thin, winner of last year’s fellowship Michelle Wright, Carey and Shields.
“I can’t wait to be back in Sri Lanka and get to work,” Nelson said.