Jesse Blackadder & Carol Birrell

February, 2015

Dr Jesse Blackadder is a previous Island Institute Fellow (from 2007). She is an author of award-winning adult and children’s novels with environmental themes, and an environmental journalist. Dr Carol Birrell is an academic, writer and environmental artist from the university of Western Sydney.

Jesse and Carol have a lifelong connection of bloodlines and passionate interests – Carol is Jesse’s aunt, and they have shared years of deep conversations about their work. Their overlapping areas of interest include sense of place, ecological writing, indigenous studies, and human-non-human relationships. They are both graduates in the discipline of Social Ecology from the University of Western Sydney, and they express their passions through different creative forms including storytelling, fiction and non-fiction writing, photography, visual and land-based art.

Carol and Jesse’s month long program  – From the Desert to the Sea – includes both individual and collaboratory components. Much of their collaboration will focus on their offerings to the Sitka community, which include a number of talks and events, particularly focusing on:

  • Whale Dreams workshop for children: A half day story-telling, drama, art and writing workshop for children 7-12 years old
  • Imaginal landscapes workshop for adults: A one day creativity workshop that provides participants with creative tools for exploring and understanding environmental issues and for linking them with their own experience.

They will also be participating in the Sitka Story Lab.

Carol and Jesse are excited about meeting the local community.


Articles written by Jesse Blackadder and Carol Birrell

Remarkable Meetings

  • Posted on: 12 February 2015
  • By: Jesse Blackadde...

Jesse Blackadder and Carol Birrell are in town this month through our Collaborative Residency program. You can visit their residency page here to learn more about their visit, or read on to hear about what they've been up to since arriving.

In the past week the weather has bounced from winter to spring – the ‘winterless winter’ as a member of Blue Canoe Writer’s Group phrased it last night. Swan Lake, in a little valley below our house, froze over enough for ice skating on the weekend (it went down to -6 celsius). On Saturday afternoon it was packed with parents and kids (some wobbling on their skates, some graceful), slithering excited dogs, the end of an ice hockey game. Light snow dusted the surface, the skaters carved patterns in it. Saturday night, in the dark, it was teenagers gracefully skimming the ice, some out on the lake with headlamps glimmering, some close to the shore where the street lights bounced down. Sunday morning it was deserted. The snow dust had melted off, the ice was dark and slick and forbidding, too thin to support human weight. This morning I woke to grey, drizzly warmth and the lake looking decidedly watery. It’s six degrees. That was probably the one day of the season that Sitkans could ice skate.

A Reading and Celebration with Jesse Blackadder and Carol Birrell

Monday, February 23, 2015 - 7:00pm to 8:30pm
Kettleson Memorial Library

Join us for an event featuring our two writers in residence, Jesse Blackadder and Carol Birrell. Both originally from Australia, Jesse and Carol have spent the past month in Sitka working on their creative projects, giving workshops to adults and kids, and joining in Sitka's local writing community. They will speak and read from their work at 7 PM on Monday, February 23, in Kettleson Memorial Library.

Carol Birell is an academic, writer, teacher, and environmental artist from the University of Western Sydney. Jesse Blackadder is a previous Island Institute Fellow (2007). She is the author of award-winning adult and children’s novels with environmental themes, and an environmental journalist.

Jesse and Carol will also be joined by their trusty mascot, Crikey the Kangaroo.

Different Geographies: Creativity Workshop

Saturday, February 7, 2015 - 10:00am to 2:00pm
Yaw Chapel

This one-day creativity workshop for adults will inspire participants to deepen their own creative expression using clay, paints, writing and storytelling.
Jointly and gently led by Island Institute Resident Fellows Carol Birrell and Jesse Blackadder from Australia, it is a playful journey through inner and outer geographies, from the arid purity of the desert to the teeming abundance of the ocean, exploring joy, grief, and lived experience. 
Bring pen and paper, and any art materials you wish (some will be provided).