Zoe Dzunko and Annabel Brady-Brown were in residence at the Urban Writing House for their work with Women Writers in the City, a non/fictionLab project supported by City of Melbourne 2016 Arts Grants.
Of the residency Dzunko and Brady-Brown say: “Our week at the RMIT Urban Writing House in October marked the first time we’d been together in the same place since the winter months. Reuniting after Annabel’s sojourn in Europe, we reacquainted ourselves with the ideas that were forged during our stay at Mcraith House in June and had since been turning over in our minds. It was not entirely unsurprising to us that our collaborative project—one that attempts to articulate the hazy boundaries between individual, shared, voluntary and paid work, the sacrifice of one’s time to noble ideas, the custodial roles women often assume, and seeks to problematise the systems that perpetuate gendered positions within the spheres of art and labour—had mirrored the very conditions that inspired it.”
“Coming together again to consider how the previous months had seen the incursions of our shared and individual responsibilities routinely interfere with, or defer, our creative practices, allowed us to trace more clearly the contours of our days—the beliefs and onuses binding us to routines that are often uneconomical, in a conventional sense, yet abound with personal meaning. Standing aside our daily schedules and reflecting upon the architecture of our lives—as writers, editors and friends—we found that, despite months of physical distance, we had been writing along parallel lines. Both of us had been trying to articulate the cycles of joy, guilt, belief and worry that define our working lives; both of us had been looking to pinpoint the moment in which our own writing became equally or less important to us than the writing of others and to find the sweet spot in sacrifice that exists somewhere between gratification and enervation.”
“Thinking about structure, both its material forms and its temporal manifestations, we kept returning the symbology of women within cities—architectural figures that straddle the dual function of loadbearing and the conveyance of allegorical messages. Interpreting the theme of the Women Writers in the City project literally, we occupied a private/public space within the heart of the city—amongst its noise, disruption and freneticism—and looked to finding ways of carving space for the things we wish to support and the stories we want to tell. In the end, we found a form that could contain both of our works, their resonances and messy contradictions, and reaffirm our agency. Often, we think about the many ways we could go about simplify our days, what we might extract ourselves from but choose not to; this week allowed us to rediscover choice in that trouble, derive strength from the things we carry, and feel galvanised by the work we do better together than alone.”
In addition to their residency, Dzunko and Brady-Brown hosted a writing workshop at the Urban Writing House.
“During our week in the Urban Writing House, we hosted an intimate workshop with a number of female-identifying writers from RMIT’s writing programs. In this informal seminar, we had the opportunity to read the impressive works these writers had been developing and discuss possible venues for publication, in addition to any lingering questions they had about submission and publishing processes. It was an enriching conversation that reaffirmed for us the two integral parts of a healthy writing life: one being the cultivation of patience and belief enough to give the work the time it needs, and to ensure that it finds a suitable home; and two, the importance of belonging to or cultivating writing communities that nurture our creative practice. It was a pleasure to have these discussions in such a warm and casual environment; to learn about these writers’ goals, what is important to them as creatives, and how they’re navigating their early careers—we learnt a lot about each other and left feeling truly energised about our work, as editors and writers both.”