Time was on my side

I’d forgotten the gift of having time on my side. When I arrived at New Zealand Pacific Studio on 5 April, time stretched out before me. Three weeks seemed such a luxury. So I took my time: I unpacked my clothes; I stacked food on my shelf (“MASON”) in the pantry; I set up my computer, my books, my desk. I’d like to say that I sat down at the desk, then, and got stuck in. But it took a few days to shake off town, and commitments, to fire some last emails back to work, and to find my rhythm.

It’s two weeks now since I completed my three-week residential fellowship at New Zealand Pacific Studio as the inaugural R.A.K. Mason Writer’s Fellow. It was a hugely productive three weeks, most of it spent working on my next novel. That productivity was assisted by deciding to more or less stay offline while I was there — Twitter, Facebook, blog, all pretty much abandoned — and I’m not going to try to catch up, or document the whole experience here and now. Going offline felt like an essential part of the process, letting me concentrate as much as I could on my writing project. So what I’ll offer here are simply huge thanks, and some photos to give a taste of time and place.

Thanks go first and most of all to Chris and Derek Daniell, who funded my fellowship. Enormous thanks to everyone involved in running and supporting New Zealand Pacific Studio and in particular, for their support during my stay, to Jodie Dalgleish, Lynette Dewes (and her wondrous telescope!), Denise Batchelor and Tracy White (with special thanks to Tracy for sharing her extensive knowledge of wool and dyeing, and bringing me a box of dyeing treasures to experiment with). Thanks to Kay Flavell for her vision in creating this wonderful place for getting things done. It was energising and creative-tank-filling to be at NZPS with a range of writers, makers, do-ers, travellers and practitioners, including poet Janis Freegard, felted shelter (aka not-a-yurt) makers Lydia Karpenko and Vlad Papish, artist and researcher Danielle Hanifin, publisher and calligrapher Mary Chan, artist and maker and ANZAC Fellow Anna Borrie (read an article about her ANZAC project here), and academic, translator and playwright Luo Hui. Thanks to Madeleine Slavick, who invited me to Carterton to read at Wairarapa Word on the first weekend I was at NZPS. Huge thanks to the wonderful participants — including Madeleine, Jodie, and Mary — in the writing workshop I took on the Easter weekend. Thanks too to Mary Knox and the Wairarapa Spinners and Weavers Guild in Masterton for inviting me to speak with them, and sharing their knowledge about botanical dyes and wool types.

If you’re looking for somewhere to get away to write or think or make, have a look at the New Zealand Pacific Studio website or Facebook page. As well as funded residencies, like the R.A.K. Mason Writer’s Fellowship that I held last month, they accept applications for fee-paying residencies

from creative practitioners and researchers…[including] Writers, natural and cultural historians and storytellers, visual artists, environmentalists, producers and film-makers, curators, musicians, dancers, performers, choreographers, science communicators, post-graduate students and scholars.

You might, I suspect, find time there as productive as I found mine to be.

Here are some photos to wander through. If they raise questions (lichens? Maps?), well, good. Hopefully it’ll all make sense one day, between the covers of a novel.

The Mason Room


Lenses: Lichens, lunar eclipse




Maps, geology


Felted shelter


Norwegian Church, Mauriceville


Writing on the porch


Anna Borrie’s harakeke poppy cloak


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