Urszula Dawkins

I work mostly across the arts and academia as a journalist, writer/editor and mentor, as well as maintaining my own creative practice as a writer, collaborator and sometimes-musician. In the past 20 years I’ve also been an arts producer, an arts marketer, a web and multimedia producer, a choir manager and a book producer, among other things. I’ve worked for many organisations, including Arts House, Dance Massive, Festival of Live Art, Melbourne Festival, Art Monthly Australia, Adelaide Festival, Brisbane Festival, the Barbican (UK), Arts Victoria, the Arts Centre and Art of Difference Festival; and with many individual artists and writers as well.

My fiction and hybrid fiction/nonfiction has been published in anthologies and journals in Australia, the UK and the USA, and I’ve done countless spoken word performances in various cities. A few highlights: performing with queer heroes Sister Spit in San Francisco (2000) and at the Sydney International Gay Games Cultural Festival (2002); and more recently, collaborating with electric violinist Sarah Curro on the performance Solitude (2014) and with Peter Lyssiotis on the artists’ book What She Wants (2014). In 2017 I’m working on a second artists’ book with Lyssiotis and a new, non-fiction manuscript that loops from Fremantle to the high Arctic to Melbourne and back.

Exposé

I’ve always loved words and been a voracious consumer and user of them. As time goes on I honestly feel quite in love with the English language, and am having a long-distance affair with German on the side. I began my adult life as a scientist, though, dipping out of a BSc early on, then returning to uni later to complete a Visual Arts degree. Eventually I did a postgrad in journalism, and got very interested in the blurred spaces between creative writing and non-fiction. I’m fascinated by the process of creation, and love talking to artists about why and how they make work—I also love it when readers go “oh!” or “I get it!” and can share in that pleasure.

In my own creative work, I’m obsessed with wild landscapes, harsh journeys, longing and belonging, quest and surrender. I’m interested in how sublime places can quickly become treacherous when you commit yourself to walking in them—and this extends to emotional landscapes, and how we negotiate their peaks and their perils. And one way or another, it all, always, comes back somehow to desire.

I’ve undertaken artist residencies on the shores of Lake Superior, in the heart of Marrickville, on an ice-class sailing ship in the high Arctic, in midwinter Reykjavík and in midsummer Lapland, and lived for a winter and two summers in a tin shed in Fremantle. But Melbourne is very much home.

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