A week of performances and events remembering the much-missed Julia Darling is well underway at Live Theatre. Last night, the latest beneficiary from her life and work was announced.
Northumberland writer Chloe Daykin has been revealed as the winner of the inaugural Julia Darling Travel Fellowship.
New Writing North established the prize, which is for creative writers, this year in conjunction with the family and friends of the late writer, who died in 2005 after a long battle with breast cancer.
To mark the 10th anniversary of her death, a series of performances and events to celebrate her life and work kicked off at Live Theatre on Thursday.
Last night Rendezvous 2, an evening which saw a number of extracts of her work performed by a cast of friends including Charlie Hardwick, Zoe Lambert and Jim Kitson, also saw Chloe announced as the beneficiary of the Fellowship, which is worth £2,000 and intended to assist a writer to undertake a period of travel, which will inform their creative work.
Chloe – who has recently secured a publishing deal for her first children’s book, Fish Boy – plans to use her fellowship to travel to Norway, researching for a second children’s novel.
In her proposed book, the main character must make a journey across the wild, foreign landscape of Norwegian mountains, rivers and fjords to discover something about his identity. Using the fellowship grant, Chloe intends to make the journey on which she will send her protagonist.
A delighted Chloe said: “I am so excited and thrilled and my head is spinning with exciting possibilities. I’m itching to write this book and to experience people and landscapes with which to populate my work so as to transport my readers to an unfamiliar setting.
“I feel exceptionally proud and a bit overwhelmed to be doing it in the name of Julia - it’s such an honour and makes all the hairs on my arms prickle up just thinking about it.
“I’ll be taking her work with me as part of the journey and carrying her spirit in my heart. I can’t wait to meet the people, I can’t wait to see the places and I can’t wait to dive into the unknown. It’s such an amazing opportunity. Thank you so much.”
Julia Darling’s work encompassed a wide range of topics and forms, from plays and novels to poetry and performance. She was an exceptional artist with a unique and humorous voice that engaged readers even when her work explored her declining health and ultimate death from cancer.
Julia was also known as a kind and generous writer who went out of her way to support and encourage many other writers and aspiring writers to develop their work and their creativity.
The creation of the Fellowship was inspired by Julia’s love of travel and by the appreciation that she had of writing away from home, whether that was at creative retreats in the wilderness or in rented houses at the seaside.
It was open to novelists, poets and playwrights over the age of 18, who live and work in the North of England and who have at least one professionally produced or published work to their name.
Bev Robinson, Julia’s partner and one of the founders of the Julia Darling Travel Fellowship said: “Julia loved travel, she loved writing, she loved encouraging others and making projects happen. ‘Traveling’ she would say ‘filled up her image banks’.
“With the Julia Darling Travel Fellowship it’s great to be able to offer another writer the opportunity to do those things in a spirit that Julia herself would have truly enjoyed.”
In this first year the fellowship is supported by New Writing North. In future years it is hoped that the prize will be crowd funded by those who knew Julia and appreciated her contribution to the arts.
Claire Malcolm, chief executive of New Writing North said: “Julia Darling was a very special writer. She played an important role in the development of literature in the region whilst she was alive – supporting other writers, bringing people together and creating projects and events that always had great heart.
“Her work touched many people, me included, and I was very proud to have worked with her on a number of projects and to have published her plays whilst she was still alive.
“The Travel Fellowship that we’ve created in her name reflects a number of things that Julia loved and valued: writing in inspiring places, travelling and meeting new people and having fun whilst doing so.”
A crowd funding appeal has been launched on JustGiving to fund future the Fellowship in future years. To contribute, text JULI01 and the amount you would like to donate (for example JULI01 £10) to 70070.
Rendezvous, a series of five new short plays inspired by Julia’s work continue at Live Theatre from Tuesday until Friday. Visit www.live.org.uk or call 0191 232 1232 for more information and bookings.