State Library Victoria’s fellowship program

State Library Victoria’s fellowship program

I’d been making a documentary about a guy called the Mighty Apollo, and I’d been coming into the library to use the domed reading room to research some of that. There was a lot of material that was really valuable stuff that we weren’t going to be able to use in the documentary. And my producers said to me there’s this thing called the fellowship coming up at the library and I should apply for it. So my fellowship project is an online history of the Apollo gym, which is the oldest family-run gym in Australia. When I say to people I’ve received this fellowship from State Library Victoria to work on this project and I’d like to interview you about it, everyone says yes. Well, the fellowship program encourages artists and sculptors and writers, historians, researchers, to come in and immerse themselves in part of the collection. And really, reinterpret it on our behalf and for the people of Victoria. So it’s a really rare opportunity to spend time, with not only the collection, but the wonderful librarians and historians who care for that part of the collection. I applied for a fellowship at State Library Victoria for a few reasons, but the key one is the collection. There’s over a hundred drawings by von Guérard here. There are 35 extant sketchbooks that von Guérard has left, but of his Australian books there are three missing books, and I wanted to explore whether it was possible that some of the drawings here had come from those missing sketchbooks. I think that they do, in fact I’m certain that they do. We pair each of the fellows with a collections specialist from normally the heritage collections. They have a space allocated to them located in the annulus of the dome, which actually means around the perimeter of the domed reading room. Having this space here means that as we’re working and researching, those moments where you have a thread that you want to follow where you feel really inspired, you can go straight out and follow up on those threads of inspiration. And to be in this building, it’s excellent. A really important part of the fellowships is there’s no obligation to deliver anything. And I think that really allows our fellows to explore and to delve without any pressure, and that’s terribly precious. In some ways it seems an absolute luxury to have this dedicated time and space. But on the other hand I think it’s really essential that we as a society allow that to happen. So I’m very grateful for it.

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About the Author: Oren Garnes

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