Antarctic Arts Fellow, Jesse Blackadder, has won a literary award at the Sydney Writers’ Festival.
Ms Blackadder’s essay The first woman and the last dog in Antarctica won the Guy Morrison Award for Literary Journalism.
The 2012 Guy Morrison Prize judge, Nikki Barrowclough, said the essay was compelling.
“From her glorious opening paragraph, which immediately captivated me, Jesse Blackadder has produced a spirited, beautifully written and structured story, bringing to light the history of the first woman to reach Antarctica,” Nikki Barrowclough said.
Jesse Blackadder travelled to Davis station in 2010–11 as part of the Australian Antarctic Division’s Arts Fellowship program.
“Prior to my trip south I’d been researching the forgotten journeys of the earliest women to reach Antarctica and already had many of the jigsaw pieces of information assembled,” Jesse Blackadder said.
“Once I reached Davis, I realised the value of my trip wasn’t in writing better descriptions of ice, but more about really understanding the stories in the physical landscape in which they took place.”
Jesse Blackadder is also writing an historic novel ‘Chasing the Light’ about Ingrid Christensen, the first woman to see Antarctica.
The novel will provide glimpses into Christensen’s life on an Antarctic whaling ship in the 1930s, and explore the devastating impact of the industry in the Southern Ocean. It will be published in February 2013.
Two other Arts Fellows, Coral Tulloch and Alison Lester, were shortlisted in another segment of the Festival, the ‘Book of the year for Younger Children’ category of the Australian Book Industry Awards.
Coral Tulloch travelled south as an Arts Fellow in the 1998–99 season and Alison Lester in 2004–05.
The authors teamed up four years ago to write the story of Australia’s remote Macquarie Island with their children’s book One Small Island, published last year.
“The Arts Fellowship took us to the Island and Antarctica, giving us the raw material for the book. Before I visited Macquarie I had no idea of its incredible natural and human history, and it was a shock to see plants chewed to the ground by rabbits when I was expecting fields of mega-herbs” Alison Lester said.
“We really wanted to tell the story of this precious world heritage listed Island and the impact humans have had on the delicate ecosystem,” Coral Tulloch said.
“It’s great to see that the current efforts to eradicate the rats, mice and rabbits through the Macquarie Island Pest Eradication project are succeeding, with the island flora and fauna once again flourishing,” she said.
One Small Island was also given a notable status in the Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) awards for Picture Books, and has been shortlisted for the Information Book of the Year for the CBCA awards. The winners of these awards will be announced in August to coincide with Children’s Book Week.