Why we support Stella: Karen Wilson, The Wilson Foundation
In our new interview series with Stella supporters, we spoke with Karen Wilson, Chair of the Wilson Foundation, about the power of books and reading, and the impact of literary awards in championing women’s stories.
What brought you to books and reading?
Reading can often feel like an active meditation and sanctuary. Books can transport us to different eras and realms of existence. They bring connection and perspective and help us to develop compassion for others whilst the story unfolds.
Why do you support the Stella Prize?
It is impressive that a group of resourceful and committed women with a deep concern about the underrepresentation of women in the literary world, sought to change the status quo by creating the Stella Prize. The Wilson Foundation initially supported the Prize award night for two years prior to becoming the major partner of the Prize for an additional four years. The Stella Prize showcases talented authors who share brave, provocative and original stories inspired by their diverse experiences and perspectives, whilst being uniquely Australian. It was an easy decision for the Wilson Foundation to step in as the major partner given the significant role of the Stella Prize in contemporary literature.
What role and impact do you see the Stella Prize having made since its inception?
Literary awards like the Stella Prize have an important role to play in the literary ecosystem and they ensure we have an inclusive and open-minded society. The Stella Prize recognises and rewards excellence, uplifts and showcases communities that have traditionally been left out of conversations whilst influencing publishers and bookshops to engage with new voices and ideas. A literary award can be a vital agent of change which introduces social movements to broader audiences. Authors are often under-appreciated for their important contribution and awards can be a critical form of livelihood.
Since its inception, the Stella Prize has had an extraordinary impact on the Australian literary scene. The Stella Prize has realised the original goal of overcoming the underrepresentation that once confronted Australian women authors. It has provided us with a collection of authors and books that are excellent, original and engaging. In some cases, it has even forecast a movement demonstrated by Jess Hill’s 2020 Stella Prize-winning book See What You Made me Do? Due to the Stella Prize, women’s experiences, ideas and stories are now more heard, valued and rewarded. This impact will continue to inspire us and future generations to come.
Can you tell us about a book you discovered through Stella?
The Museum of Modern Love by Heather Rose who won the Stella Prize in 2017. The synchronicity of reading this wonderful book whilst seeing Marina Abramovich’s retrospective overseas was astonishing. Meeting Heather at a later date was an absolute joy and to hear how the Stella Prize impacted her as an author.