The fellowship is one of three awarded by the Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund to support Australian writers and visual artists and the creation of new Australian works.
Among the fund’s previous recipients are this year’s Miles Franklin Literary Award winner Melissa Lucashenko, who wrote her novel Too Much Lip during her fellowship year in 2017.
Orr’s books included the Miles Franklin-longlisted Time’s Long Ruin and The Hands, and the recently published coming-of-age novel This Excellent Machine. He was awarded the fellowship for new work The Journey, which is inspired by the life of Lutheran missionary Carl Strehlow and will be a “fictionalised reimagining” of his journey through the South Australian desert with his 14-year-old son.
“Orr will examine the country, the Indigenous people and the history of the Lutheran missions, and explore the nature of hope, and the danger of good intentions,” the Copyright Agency said in a release.
Orr said receiving the Fellowship had boosted his confidence and would allow him to “test the limits of what I can do creatively”.
“A writer’s life is defined by a lot of rejection, and insecurity (of various types), so I’m excited by the prospect of being able to get on with a major project without worrying about the bills.
“Our country is focused on economic goals and productivity, to the detriment of creativity. The feeling that someone values your ideas, and potential, is something that all creative people need from time to time.”
Copyright Agency CEO Adam Suckling said the high calibre of applications received reflected the rich and diverse talent of the Australian creative sector, and demonstrated the importance of funding for Australian writers and artists.
The other fellowship recipients were author and critic James Bradley and visual artist Danielle Freakley.
Stephen Orr is an occasional contributor to InDaily. His recent articles can be read here.