Award-winning author Charlotte Wood has been announced as the Charles Perkins Centre's Writer in Residence. Among Australia's most provocative authors, Wood will will lend her creative talents to the complex issue of aging as part of the one-year residency.
This is a life-changing opportunity – not just for me, but it is a game-changer for our country.
One of Australia’s most provocative authors, Charlotte Wood has been announced as winner of the $100,000 Writer in Residence Fellowship at the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre.
The Stella Prize-winning author will lend her creative talents to the complex issue of aging as part of the one-year residency – the first of its kind in Australia.
Joining the University of Sydney as an Honorary Associate at the Charles Perkins Centre this May, Wood will work alongside world-leading health and chronic disease specialists to interpret the complexities of aging and its associated health problems from a literary perspective, supported by full access to the University’s facilities, researchers and clinicians.
Throughout the Fellowship Wood will craft a new novel centred on the lives of three elderly women, aimed at addressing the experience of a “new generation of aging people”.
“I was so stunned to be chosen, because I thought I was really clear in my application that I would not be doing anything obedient. Now I’m starting to think that’s why I was chosen,” said Wood.
“This is a life-changing opportunity – not just for me, but it is a game-changer for our country. Drawing artists into the realm of science and health as the Charles Perkins Centre has done is very exciting.
“To see exceptional people of talent and influence inviting writers and artists in as equal contributors in this groundbreaking, radical approach to solving our nation’s overwhelming problems is exhilarating and very, very moving. Bringing together the mind, the soul and the body – to make us whole again – seems to me the highest ambition of art, and I am so excited that the Charles Perkins Centre sees itself as part of this creative quest.”
Wood’s forthcoming novel will seek to pose confronting questions around aging, in response to the static way the elderly are represented in literature and in mainstream culture.
“The characters in my book are not going to be frail little old ladies. I want to write a book where old people are the main characters, fully alive and thinking about the future and the present, not passively sitting around reflecting sadly on the glory days of their youth,” she said.
Professor Stephen Simpson, Academic Director of the Charles Perkins Centre, said he was thrilled to welcome such a bright talent to the University of Sydney.
“From the outset, this Fellowship was intended to shake up conventional thinking on some of the nation’s greatest health challenges, and bridge the gap between academia and the world at large,” said Professor Simpson.
“Just like the Charles Perkins Centre itself, the Fellowship is premised on experimentation: finding new ways to deal with endemic problems, pursuing fresh approaches and working in unexpected collaborations to elicit innovative solutions. We’re confident that Charlotte will flourish in this Fellowship, and we look forward to working together to help enrich her latest and timely novel.”
The residency marks a cyclical career return for Wood, who once worked for the Australian Council on the Ageing and for many years in health communications. She is author of six books and has been shortlisted for many prizes including the Miles Franklin Award and the Christina Stead prize for fiction. Her latest book The Natural Way of Things (2015) was announced as winner of the $50,000 Stella Prize as well as the Indie Book of the Year award last month.
The Charles Perkins Centre Writer in Residence Fellowship was made possible through the generous support of University of Sydney alumna and patron Judy Harris.
Launched in 2014, the Charles Perkins Centre is a $500 million initiative at the University of Sydney which brings together researchers and clinicians from the University’s 16 faculties to develop integrated solutions for easing the burden of obesity and chronic disease.