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This Year

December 1, 2018

It is the first of December today, and outside the day looks lush, the trees bright green, branches swaying in time with the breeze that is coming in through the window and across my arms. I’m in the gloom of the house, no matter how much I might feel the urge to be otherwise, combing through the details of the year that’s almost passed. To do this I am scrolling through the 5000 photographs that I have taken this year. Surely with that many photographs there is little more that needs to be recorded, yet they are only ever a partial summary. I turn, too, to the journals I’ve kept this year, and flip back to the start.

2018 Journals

At the turn of the year I had been on a railway bridge in Erskineville handing out sparklers to the people around me as we struggled to see the new year’s eve fireworks over the top of the city buildings. In some ways I have indeed continued to do this for the rest of the year, as I’ve given regular talks about Mirror Sydney and the book has made its way into the world. At a time when Sydney churns with change, and becomes more ever-more difficult to live in as it does, it felt good to encourage paying close attention to its smaller, quieter, stranger places.

At Better Read Than Dead, Newtown (photo by Better Read Than Dead)

One of the joys of writing a book like Mirror Sydney is making public the feelings and ideas that the city brings about within me, and finding that others share, or have their own versions of, these connections. I’ve felt thankful to have my book so well-received and to have met so many other people who share a belief that the city’s stories, big and small, are worth recording, in the myriad and varied ways that we are able to do so. Some of my favourite reviews and commentary on Mirror Sydney from this year can be found in the Sydney Review of Books, Westerly, Plumwood Mountain and in the profile on me and my work in Neighbourhood.

Speaking about binishells and Mirror Sydney at Berkelouw Books Mona Vale in March.


With Mark Mordue and Ross Gibson at the State Library of NSW in March for “The City Rewritten”


With Fiona Wright, Ashleigh Young, and Nick Tapper of Giramondo Publishing, at Gleebooks in May, for “The Art of the Essay”

Much of my writing this year has been affiliated with Mirror Sydney in some way, whether it be on the Mirror Sydney blog or companion articles such as “Underground Albums” for the SL magazine, for which I was also the cover star, in a lovely photograph taken by Joy Lai at the CTA bar in Martin Place.

I also worked with the Powerhouse Museum on the book Time and Memory, which was published in October: my essay “Time Machines” forms part of the book, alongside an essay by Samuel Wagan Watson and essays by museum curators such as Matthew Connell. As part of the project I also interviewed Joyce Thomson, who worked in the Sydney telephone switchboard at the GPO in the 1950s, reading the time live over the telephone.

With the Curator of Sydney Observatory Andrew Jacob atop Sydney Observatory’s Time Ball tower. Photo: Matthew Connell, MAAS

This year the artist Tom Carment painted a portrait of me, “The Observant Vanessa Berry” that was exhibited in the Archibald Prize Salon des Refusés. Here’s the painting taking shape:


I’ve also been involved with the Centre for Deep Reading this year, hosting the fundraising dinner at Alfie’s Kitchen ahead of the Winter Reading Retreat.

Reading at the Centre for Deep Readings fundraising dinner.

Among all this I haven’t forgotten my roots, and had a grand time at the Festival of the Photocopier and Other Worlds Zine fairs, and made a couple of zines, Disposable Camera, and Marrickville.

At the Festival of the Photocopier Zine Fair in February, Melbourne Town Hall.

The bright, green day outside calls me, and so I will say farewell for you, dear readers, for 2018. It has been a quiet year on VB World the blog, but a rich one for VB World in real life: in 2019 I will try to bring the two a little closer. Mirror Sydney will continue, as will my Instagram.  Thank you for your support and interest this year and I look forward to sharing new projects with you in the next one.

In Goulds Books, a Newtown institution, which closed in September 2018.

See you in the new year


5 Comments leave one →
  1. joevc permalink
    December 2, 2018 10:17 am

    Bravo! A year well done.

  2. December 3, 2018 7:45 am

    Indeed, wow! The Typosphere is proud, fer certain – may you be twice as busy in 2019. 😀

    • Vanessa Berry permalink*
      December 3, 2018 4:40 pm

      Thanks T. and all in the Typoshere – wishing you a happy year ahead!

  3. December 7, 2018 6:42 am

    Wonderful, Vanessa! Such impressive output. Again, it was a pleasure working with you on Time and Memory and fantastic that you could be part of this special project. Jo x

    • Vanessa Berry permalink*
      December 7, 2018 7:10 am

      Thanks Jo! I loved working on T&M!

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