An interview with Kinchem Hegedus – Life at Springfield
We spoke with Stella residency partner, Kinchem Hegedus, about her love of books and literature, and the importance of providing dedicated space for women writers.
What role have books and writing played in your life?
Books and writing are an infinite universe of ideas that never fails to delight me. In them I find an essential source of solace, discovery and inspiration. They are my favourite way of knowing myself, others and the world around me. I enjoy being both surrounded by and immersed in books. As artefacts of a writer’s toil, I love their physicality as much as their content. Books and writing are a beautiful and precious part of my life.
Can you tell us a bit about Life at Springfield – its history, location, and vision?
Being with a group of creative women is always a joy for me, and for years I’d dreamed of running retreats. In 2016, I participated in a Hedgebrook Masterclass and was inspired to create a retreat for women writers in Australia. So, when I returned to Australia, after living overseas for many years, Springfield was established as a retreat venue to bring creative women together. Springfield’s ethos focuses on nurturing a creative ecology, and the farm grows organic food and runs on solar energy.
Our first writers’ retreat in March 2019 featured Karen Joy Fowler, Catherine McKinnnon and Nike Sulway, and in August 2019 Charlotte Wood’s ‘Intuitive Writer’ retreat explored her award-winning PhD research into the creative writing process. Initially the plan was to offer Hedgebrook residential writing retreats, but after meeting Paula McLean, Stella’s former Deputy Chair, and being inspired by the story of the Stella Prize, we were delighted to parter with Stella. Since then, authors who have attended retreats or residencies at Springfield include: Sarah Selecky, Stephanie Bishop, Inga Simpson, Belinda Castles, Kate Forsyth, Belinda Murrell, Joyce Morgan, Fiona Wright, Yumna Kassab, Emily Maguire, Gabrielle Carey, Mireille Juchau, Margo Lanagan, Ceridwen Dovey, S. L. Lim, Intan Paramaditha, Jessie Tu, Nardi Simpson, Cath Moore, Jamie Marina Lau, Mirandi Riwoe, Kirli Saunders, Jess Hill, Bri Lee, Ursula Dubosarsky, Oliver Reeson, SJ Norman, Anwen Crawford and Beejay Silcox.
In our first three years (2019-2022) Springfield has developed a community of around one thousand subscribers, despite the challenges of the pandemic.
Why do you think residencies are important for women writers?
Finding time and space to write without the multitude of demands and distractions of daily life is a challenge for many women writers, so residencies can offer a rare opportunity to enjoy the solitude of going deep into the creative process. The experience of expansiveness made possible within generous blocks of time allows writers to hold and explore complexity in a way that is difficult when writing in bite-sized moments crammed into busy lives. During a residency, writers might smash out first drafts, edits or rewrites; experience breakthroughs or insights; resolve problems, experiment, read, wander, daydream or meet deadlines; but whatever unfolds they have a chance to focus on their work.
What do you love most about hosting Stella Prize-listed writers at Springfield?
Sharing Springfield is what we love most about this place that we are lucky enough to call home. Many friendships, connections and collaborations have been formed or developed over the years as writers have gathered here, sharing time and space within the vulnerability of creative process. Writers seem to instinctively know how to appreciate the beauty and spaciousness of Springfield, so residencies often become a vessel within which a kind of alchemy occurs.