“Bit by bit the city bewilders us.” For a few days in 2003, that sentence was writ large in white Dulux on the side of a derelict inner-Sydney flour mill. The words faced the road so drivers on the Western Distributor could read them.
One of the authors was artist, writer and critic Anwen Crawford; her collaborator was her friend Ned Sevil.
“The mill is gone now and my friend is dead. Sydney’s my hometown, and the meaner and slicker it gets, the more compelled I feel to remember other versions of it,” Crawford says.
Remembering and collaborating will be intrinsic to Crawford’s job as the Copyright Agency New Writer in Residence 2017-18 at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), a position she takes up later this month.
Having outlined the story of the ephemeral flour mill graffiti in her residence application, Crawford will use her time at UTS to work on a book about loss – lost artworks, young deaths, vanished histories – and how we think and remember online through data. Her working title, Related Images, comes from the Google Images search function and its algorithmic responses to inquiries.
“Creative collaboration is really important to me. My book is about a particular collaborative relationship I had and what happens when that ends. He died – there is a legacy of work, but I am alone,” Crawford says.
Her residence at UTS will allow her to ease back on freelance commitments and dedicate time to a “rigorously unorthodox” book for which she says she is very ambitious.
She says she values the opportunity of working with a group of practitioners, exchanging ideas, thinking about practice, collaborating, as well as giving back to the UTS community of students and staff.
The UTS New Writers Program is aimed at professional writers who are on to their second or third book. Crawford is the author of Live Through This (Bloomsbury, 2015); Related Images will be published by Giramondo in 2019.
Previous writers-in-residence include Fiona Wright, Mandy Sayer, Louis Nowra, Leah Purcell, Les Murray and Frank Moorhouse.
Professor John Dale, discipline co-ordinator of the creative writing program in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at UTS, believes “no respectable creative writing program should be without a writer-in-residence”.
“They bring so many benefits to a university – consulting with students and staff, delivering talks and promoting the study, creation and appreciation of Australian writing.
“In Anwen Crawford, we welcome an extremely interesting writer, and music and art critic, whose creative work covers a range of mediums including visual art, poetry and writing in experimental forms.”
The UTS New Writer in Residence initiative is a creative partnership between the Cultural Fund of the Copyright Agency and the UTS Writing Program.