Walkley Media Talk: The Craft of Arts Writing
As the Walkley Arts Awards open for entries in 2018, we’ve drawn together some of Australia’s favourite voices on the arts to talk about why we need critics and writers to help us interpret culture, and what makes great arts writing. From painting to performance, pop culture to classical, the ephemeral and experiential to the stuff hanging in our galleries; art reveals our world to us. But it’s arts writers and critics who help reveal that art to us.
The Pascall Prize for arts criticism has been Australia’s only major award for critical writing about the arts since its inaugural award to David Malouf in 1988. The continuing aim of the prize will be to reward engaging and exciting voices, both new and established, whose work reveals critical thinking without preconceptions, that is sceptical of received wisdom and shows loyalty only to balanced, rational argument about the subject at hand. The Pascall commemorates the flamboyant journalist and critic Geraldine Pascall, who worked for The Australian from 1970 until her sudden death from a stroke in 1983.
Our panel includes the 2017 winner of the Walkley Award for Arts Writing, John Shand.
- Dee Jefferson, digital arts editor, ABC
- Jules Le Fevre, music writer, Junkee
- John Shand, writer and musician
- Ashleigh Wilson, arts editor, The Australian
A writer and musician, John Shand has written about music and theatre since 1981 for some 20 publications, including The Sydney Morning Herald for 25 years. His books include Don't Shoot The Best Boy! – The Film Crew At Work (Currency Press), Jazz – The Australian Accent (UNSW Press) and The Phantom Of The Soap Opera (a play for teenagers, Wizard Books). He contributed to The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz, and edited Jazz'n'Blues magazine and the 24 Hours Essential Guide to Jazz. In 2017 the won the Walkley Arts Journalism Award, Australia's most prestigious award for writing about the arts. His play Guilt is premiered by Scena Theatre at Washington DC's Atlas Performing Arts Centre in January, 2018.
Jules LeFevre grew up in Byron Bay and spent most of her formative years running around Bluesfest trying to get Bonnie Raitt's autograph. Her work has frequently appeared in Rolling Stone, Vice, The Big Issue, Junkee, Mess + Noise, and just about every other music outlet in the country. For the last two years she's been the music writer across Music Junkee and dance music website inthemix. And while she never got Bonnie Raitt's autograph, she did get one of Tegan & Sara's guitar picks once -- so she's happy.
Ashleigh Wilson has been a journalist for almost two decades, having began his career at The Australian in Sydney before spending several years in Brisbane. He spent four years in northern Australia as the paper’s Darwin correspondent, a posting bookended by the Falconio murder trial and the Howard government's intervention in remote Aboriginal communities. He won a Walkley Award for reports on unethical behaviour in the Aboriginal art industry., a series that led to a Senate inquiry He has been the paper's Arts editor since 2011 and lives in Sydney with his partner and son. His first book, Brett Whiteley: Art, Life and the Other Thing, was published in 2016.