It’s been an incredible journey for our first cohort of Fellows, with their time at ADM coming to an end on 31 January. We caught up with them in the final month of their fellowship to ask about the experience and the inspiring projects they have created.
Meredith Lake, 2017 ADM Senior Research Fellow
It is hard to believe my time as an ADM Senior Research Fellow is ending! The program has been a wonderful provision for me, all year, bringing joy to my work and enabling me to complete some big projects.
In the last few months, it’s been a privilege to co-edit a special issue of the St Mark’s Review on the Bible in Australia (no. 240, July 2017). It includes new findings from the National Church Life Survey, perspectives on the Bible in youth work and in cross-cultural theological education – as well as the text of the Commencement Lecture I delivered at St Mark’s National Theological College earlier in the year, outlining three reasons why the Bible has mattered to Australia.
It was great to visit Ridley College, Melbourne, to give the biennial Evangelical History Association lecture in September. I spoke on the Bible in 20th century Australia – taking up the question of secularisation and exploring the place of the Bible in the Arts. The audio is available here (the lecture begins at 14.10).
I’ve also had the joy (and relief) of finishing my major fellowship project – a book-length history of the Bible in Australia. In the last four months, I completed the full manuscript, worked through revisions, collaborated with an editor to polish the text, consulted on a cover design and checked the final page proofs.
The book, The Bible in Australia: A Cultural History, will be published by NewSouth Books (UNSW Press) in April 2018. I’m really excited to be offering Australian readers the first general interpretation of the Bible and its complex place in our social and cultural fabric. It’s a surprising story – with a great cast of characters from convicts to suffragists to Indigenous activists!
Jo Chew, 2017 ADM Creative Fellow
For the last part of my fellowship, I have been focusing on the second group of paintings following on from my June exhibition ‘Numbering Stars’.
Rudimentary, temporary and primitive shelters are central features of many of the new works. These refer to our mortal ‘dwelling’, our contingent connection to the earth and those around us and our desire for refuge and shelter – particularly in the knowledge of our vulnerability.
Elements from nature taken from photographs and paintings surround the shelters, representative of the larger and ongoing story that we exist within.
I have continued to compose my works through collage and with visual links to stage sets, arising from a knowledge that fiction can communicate truth, that we are players in a great play and that, although flimsy and frail, we are being built and brought together into something unified and complete.
Alongside working at the ADM office, I have used some of my fellowship funds to access a great studio space in Rozelle for the past few months. This has provided a wonderful space to work on the paintings and to see them evolve alongside each other. It’s also been beneficial to connect with other artists, providing valuable support, feedback and exchange of ideas.
I have continued to use the time made available to me through this fellowship to read books and essays relating to the creative arts from a Christian perspective. I have found it particularly helpful to discover thinkers, writers, artists and teachers who are championing the importance of art – both for Christians to be encouraged as contributors and makers, and for the church to understand the value of engaging with modern and contemporary art (even when it’s difficult or seems challenging to our beliefs).
From this research, I have been writing short articles, referring to personal stories and anecdotes. One of these articles will be published in Eternity’s February edition, with the potential for a follow-up article. Prior to this fellowship, I had never considered writing for publication – evidently the Engage workshops and the mentoring from ADM’s Visiting Fellow had a positive impact!
Louise Gosbell, 2017 ADM Senior Research Fellow
Being an ADM Fellow was not only incredibly rewarding for me, but also gave me the opportunity to meet many new people and bring them into contact with the work I am currently doing in relation to disability and faith.
While my original plan had been to use 2017 to complete a research project on people with disability in the Anglican Diocese of Sydney, getting ethics approval for this project proved to be a more difficult process than anticipated. This has led to some delay with regard to the research for this project. However, through building new contacts with the Centre for Disability Studies at Sydney University and Anglican Aid, I am still hoping to be able to complete this research in the near future.
I used the greater part of my fellowship time to work on my other proposed output, which was a disability manual designed for distribution throughout churches. This manual is almost complete. I am currently circulating it among a range of reviewers to check the content and offer feedback.
In addition to this, I was also able to complete a number of other significant tasks during my fellowship. Firstly, I completed the work on the final form of my PhD thesis in order to make it ready for publication as a monograph. The book, titled The Poor, the Crippled, the Blind and the Lame': Physical and Sensory Disability in the Gospels of the New Testament, will be published with Mohr Siebeck and will be available in early 2018.
I have also almost completed a book proposal for a second book I am hoping to write on the role of the senses, and sensory disability, in the Johannine literature. I was able to spend the last few months of my fellowship beginning research on this new project.
I also had the opportunity in January 2018, in conjunction with winning a DAAD scholarship at the Bergische Universität Wuppertal, to present some of my initial findings at two separate academic seminars in Germany, and through this to continue building my international research links.
Lastly, the workshops and seminars we participated in as part of the ADM Fellowship also encouraged me to start writing some more ‘popular’ pieces of writing. This was one of the things I noted in my original application as an area that I was interested in developing. The most successful piece I wrote in 2017, on disability and the body of Christ, was published in Insight magazine.
Alix Beeston, ADM Senior Research Fellow
Alix finished her ADM Fellowship a few months early in order to take up an academic position at Cardiff University. She reflects on the last couple of months:
My dream job is panning out to be as great as anticipated. The English faculty at Cardiff University have been very welcoming and kind, giving me the first few months off teaching so I could finish off the various research projects I’d started at ADM.
Most significantly, I’ve been finalising the last details on my book, which was published at the start of January. It was fantastic to flip through the advance copy of the book for the first time – as well as to see the book on the Oxford University Press stall at a big literary studies conference in New York City!
My husband Dave and I are settling in to Cardiff well, though we are missing our friends and families in Australia quite a lot – not to mention the Sydney summer. But I'm very grateful for Dave’s support, and we both feel certain that this is where God wants us, at least for now.
At the time of writing, I’ve just finished writing my first lecture for my undergraduate course this semester, and I'm really looking forward to meeting the students later this week. I'm also looking forward to launching a new project on Instagram in late February, which I started writing in the lovely Fellows’ office at ADM last year; you can follow along here if you like.
We’ll be continuing to pray for all our 2017 ADM Fellows, as well as eagerly following their work. We can’t wait to see what they’ll do next!