My name is Emma and I live and work on the unceded land of the Ngunnawal and Ngambri people in Kamberri/Canberra, Australia. I am a queer writer, performer and arts advocate and I am very excited to share my first newsletter with you.
🌸 Summer reflections
At the end of 2023 my brother (choreographer James Batchelor) and I held a mini strategy session to discuss how we might invest in our careers during 2024.
Like many people in the arts, we were both feeling a little worn down. Alongside the rewards of creative practice come many hours of completing, submitting and waiting on applications, nursing inevitable rejections, and managing a lot of financial anxiety.
As a small antidote, we decided to do something fun: a career focused tarot draw.
I generally find tarot to be a useful tool for insight; the cards offer multiple entry points for introspection with as much or as little mysticism as you choose to apply.
My draw prompted a discussion with James that was hugely clarifying and from that conversation I developed a loose plan for the year.
🌸 my 2024 creative interests.
- If the stars align, I will be releasing my new book at some point this year. Doing Good Work is a novel about dance, art-making and queerness told through the a close brother and sister relationship.
- After working so intensely on Doing Good Work, I am looking forward to taking a break from long-form writing this year. I will however be undertaking research for my third novel.
- I plan to continue my freelance arts writing while making space to cover artistic work that I am generally not commissioned to cover but would like to think more deeply about.
- I will be continuing to reconnect with my movement practice through dance, qi gong, tai chi and yoga. If you are in Canberra and have ever thought about learning tai chi, I recommend my teacher Fontane at Tai Chi Academy. Fontane is an absolute master and icon. For online qi gong practice, I recommend Mimi Kuo-Deemer. James and I have been doing her classes together for years and love her warmth and humour while teaching.
- I will continue developing an interdisciplinary theatre work adapting my writing for the stage. This project is a slow burn which I am very excited about.
- My friend Lexi (@art.by.lexi) and I have decided to each paint a portrait for the Archibald Prize. I hatched this wild idea after doing a workshop at the Australian National Portrait Gallery with artist Kate Beynon. Lexi and I will document and share our process which we intend to be a lot of fun.
- I am hoping to actually start the queer readers and writers group I have been planning for years now. The time has finally come.
- I will be continuing my work supporting and advocating for artists in my region with MARION, Stellar Company, QL2 Dance, ACTHUB and the Minister's Creative Council.
While I have a lot of things I hope to achieve this year (honestly, if I achieve even half of these things I will be happy), I try to leave space for unexpected opportunities to present themselves.
If you would like to collaborate with me on something exciting or discover an opportunity you would like to share with me, please let me know 💌
Before beginning work on any of these projects, I devoted January to investing in my space.
This time last year, I was in New York celebrating the US release of Now that I see you before spending time in Europe with my brother conducting research for Doing Good Work.
Like many of us, I hadn't travelled in many years and it felt both strange and exhilarating to be so far from home. Wandering the streets, visiting museums and galleries, shopping and eating, I soaked up as much as I could and spent far too much money on beautiful things.
In the year since, I have been slowly framing the art I acquired and finding homes for my new collectables and books. Inspired by the famous porcelain cabinet at Schloss Charlottenburg, I even installed pink shelves in the kitchen to display my decorative china.
And now with the advantage of a gentler start to the year, I have been begun painting each room a different colour: chintz grey, petal pink, rich mustard, cowardly custard and deep blue, welcome additions to my divine Gucci wallpaper.
With my space ready and my intentions set, I am ready for another year doing good work 😉.
🌸 in other news
Over Christmas, I welcomed a new family member: Artemis, a rescue kitten who was dumped out the back of the theatre. The amazing team at the Canberra Street Cat Alliance helped us to trap the family and we were able to find homes for all the babies among the staff. Artemis is a total sweetheart and while Luna is fairly exasperated with his boisterous energy currently, I am sure they will become good friends as he settles.
🌸 upcoming events I am participating in.
In conjunction with the upcoming season of Queers, Everyman Theatre and ACTHub are proud to present a conversation between 3 queer Canberra storytellers: me (!); Dylan Van Den Berg, writer of Whitefella Yella Tree; and Kaya Wilson, author of As Beautiful As Any Other.
Join us as we discuss what queer stories are, what they mean, and whether in a world that only spins forward, there is still impact in sharing unapologetically queer narratives.
When 📆 : 6:30pm, Wednesday 7 February 2024
Where 📍: ACTHub, Old Causeway Hall, 14 Spinifex St, Kingston ACT 2604
Cost 💰: It's free!
You can also buy a ticket to see Queers here.
I will also be facilitating a discussion as part of the Bold Festival. Join us for a timely conversation about arts criticism and its place in the sector. What are the responsibilities of a critic? Who are they writing for? What kind of criticism does the sector need? Who should be offering it? Award winning arts writers and critics Dr Michelle Potter, AM and I (😊) will navigate these issues followed by an open discussion with the audience.
When 📆 : 5:00-6:15pm, 8th March 2024
Where 📍: National Film and Sound Archive
Cost 💰: It's free! But you do need to register.
Check out the full BOLD program here.
🌸 quickfire arts and culture recommendations.
Here are some things I have been loving:
- Poor Things - Film
- All of Us Strangers - Film
- True Detective: Night Country - TV
- Jungle Book Reimagined, Akram Kahn Company - Dance
- We are made of diamond stuff, Isabel Waidner - Literature
And here are some things I am excited about:
🌸 bonus fun things.
After following Co-star Astrology on Instagram for a few years, I have finally downloaded their app. FYI, I am a Sagittarius sun, Gemini moon and Libra rising. Co-star uses a powerful natural-language engine, NASA data and the methods of professional astrologers to algorithmically generate insights based on your natal birth chart. I have been using my daily insights as a fun jumping off point for introspection in my daily journal. My favourite insight so far has been that my friend Becca and I "are a pair of space pirates, using our wild imaginations too design a moon-sized luxury vessel".
My absolute favourite thing at the moment is a TikTok and Instagram account sharing short, soapy episodes of Sylvanian Families drama. I never had these figurines as a child but I remember always looking at them in toy stores. These videos are completely unhinged and simultaneously so smart and delightfully stupid. I love them. 10/10.
I discovered this Instagram account just yesterday and it unbelievably wholesome. An older lady crochets outfits for her cat and then posts videos of her holding and talking to him. That's it. Delightful.