Seances, sentinels and a musical: meet State Library Victoria’s Fellows for 2024

2024 State Library Victoria Fellows photo by Jarrod BarnesState Library Victoria has awarded fellowships to 16 creatives and scholars, each receiving a share in $195,000 to support in-depth inquiry into the State Collection.

As one of Australia’s most substantial programs, the Library’s Fellowships support Victorian creative and academic communities to generate new, career-defining work.

The 2024 Fellows include a new work of fiction about female convicts by an award-winning writer, a digital e-graphic novel to teach teenagers about AI and deep fakes, and plans to re-enact a séance at the Library, evoking the Victorian-era obsession with the afterlife.

Author Christie Nieman from the Shire of Mount Alexander in Central Victoria has been awarded the Marion Orme Regional Creative Fellowship worth $15,000. She plans to research and write the first draft of her second adult literary novel, researching the lives and experiences of women transported as convicts to British Colonial Australia.

“I feel so thrilled that this project has been given a chance to exist; that I have the chance to take time with these women, discover them properly and create something from their traces. I don’t know if writing this book would even be possible without this fellowship,” said Ms Nieman.

“I am really excited by the breadth of the Library’s collection. Female convicts, pioneer women, Victorian-era medicine and seacraft, early pulp literatures: there is so much in the Library to inform and further inspire my idea.”

“But perhaps I am most looking forward to spending time with the manuscript, letters, diaries, personal papers collection, for the glimpses of the real women they can afford,” said Ms Nieman.

Writer and comedian Lawrence Leung has been awarded a Creative Fellowship worth $15,000 for his project Melbourne Gothic: A séance at State Library Victoria. “I will be researching our city’s Victorian-era fascination with spirit communication and the afterlife, the forgotten figures, the believers and tricksters who were part of the Spiritualism craze of 19th century Melbourne,” said Mr Leung.

“My project will culminate in an immersive lecture and a live re-enactment of a séance delivered late at night in one of the stately rooms of the Library. The State Library is a repository of cultural knowledge and Spiritualism is about holding onto significant people and memories that have passed.”

“I am honoured to join the ranks of previous Creative Fellows and can’t wait to work with the Library to conjure up some metaphorical and historical ‘ghosts’ of Melbourne’s past,” said Mr Leung.

Each of the year-long fellowships come with funding, a dedicated office in the Library’s Dome Annulus and a personal librarian to assist with the fellow’s specific research and to help unearth treasures in the collection.

State Library Victoria CEO Paul Duldig said the Library welcomes such a diverse cross-section of talent from across the country. “Our 2024 fellows stood out from a competitive field of 289 quality applicants,” said Mr Duldig.

“Over the next 12 months, the Library will support them as they delve deep into our Collection and produce fresh perspectives on Victoria’s history and culture.”

“For the past 22 years the Library’s Fellowship program has delivered more than $2.9 million dollars in funding, supporting more than 300 writers, creatives and scholars. We look forward to seeing what our 2024 fellows discover,” said Mr Duldig.

“State Library Victoria is the custodian of a rich and vast collection that belongs to the people of Victoria and is a vital source of inspiration and knowledge for all Victorians,” said Minister for Creative Industries, Colin Brooks.

“The State Library Fellowships program brings our state collection to life in new and imaginative ways, while supporting the careers of Victorian creatives and academics.”

For more information about the Fellowships and the 2024 Fellows, visit: for details.

Image: 2024 State Library Victoria Fellows – photo by Jarrod Barnes