French novelist Estelle Nollet has arrived at Randell Cottage for four months of writing. She is enjoying the stunning Wellington weather and the thriving heritage garden at the cottage with peas, beans, strawberries and beetroot in amongst roses and currant bushes and native ferns. There is a resident blackbird too who will soon make her acquaintance.
The Wellington writer is working on a biography of former New Zealand Prime Minister Norman Kirk. He will move into the cottage in July and live and work there for six months. The residency includes a stipend of $22,000.
Each year the Creative NZ Randell Cottage Writers Trust residency in Thorndon, Wellington hosts a French writer in the first half of the year and a New Zealand writer in the second half.
Welch says the award is a huge boost for him and for the book he’s working on.
“It helps to get the biography on the public radar and will free me up in the second half of next year to focus on the writing of it, at a stage when hopefully most of the research will have been completed,” he says. “Having known previous writers in residence at the cottage, and visited them there, I’m looking forward very much to living and working in that environment.”
Welch, a former deputy editor for the NZ Listener, is a media commentator on Radio NZ National’s Nine to Noon as well as working as a bulletin writer and editor there. Denis has stood twice for Parliament for both the Values and Green Parties, and has published a biography of Helen Clark, and a novel.
New Chair of the Randell Cottage Writers Trust, Sarah Dennis, says she’s delighted with the choice of New Zealand writer for 2013.
“The wonderful thing about the Randell Cottage residency is the range of writers we’ve had there including poets, novelists and playwrights. Once again we welcome a biographer in the Cottage and hope Denis Welch will be able to take full advantage of the Thorndon residency with its proximity to Parliament, the National Library and other creative residencies.”
This year was the tenth anniversary of the Randell Cottage Writers Trust which began in 2002, with New Zealand writer Peter Wells, and has been home to twenty-one writers. The twenty-second writer is French novelist Estelle Nollet who arrives in January. She will be followed by Denis Welch.
The Randell Cottage Writers Trust is supported by Creative New Zealand, the Embassy of France, Wellington City Council and the New Zealand-France Friendship Fund.
More on her appointment here.
Vivienne’s poetry can be immense fun as well as deeply moving. Well worth coming along.
She will be joined by Mary Macpherson. Mary is a Wellington poet and photographer.
Gnossienne by past resident writer Pat White and his wife Catherine Day was launched as part of the festivities.
The next day past and present writers read from their work in the Printery and then repaired to Randell Cottage for afternoon tea with current writer Vivienne Plumb. Les Maiden captured the afternoon’s readings.
Les Maiden captured the evening:
The festivities began with a reception jointly hosted by the Trust, the French Embassy and Wai-te-ata Press. Gnossienne, a limited edition collection of poetry and art by former Randell writer Pat White, and Catherine Day and printed by the Press, was launched on the night. Both the poetry readings and the speeches — in English and French — celebrated the success of the Randell Cottage residency which welcomes a French writer for six months every year, and a NZ writer for six months.
The next day, public readings by the eight of the 21 Randell writer in residents were held at the Wai-te-ata Press Printery followed by an afternoon tea hosted by current resident at the Thorndon cottage, Vivienne Plumb. The three-day event ended with a drinks party at outgoing chair, David Underwood’s home where a special birthday book Livre d’Or with writing by the writers who’d lived and worked in the cottage was launched. The new chair, Sarah Dennis, says the Randell Cottage Writers Trust is in good heart and excited about the next ten years. She says one of the best things about the three-day party was seeing a number of the writers return to share their experiences in the cottage and their writing since. It underlined for the Trustees and Friends of Randell Cottage the importance of the residency in the cultural life of two countries, and of the city of Wellington, she says.
The 22nd writer in residence from France, Estelle Nollet, was announced by the French Ambassador at the joint reception.
Meanwhile, Randell Cottage Writers Trust is calling for NZ writers to apply for the next NZ residency starting July 2013.
Applications close November 2. Go to the Application page for details.