AustLit logo
Vanessa Berry Vanessa Berry i(A71021 works by)
Born: Established: 1978 ;
Gender: Female
The material on this page is available to AustLit subscribers. If you are a subscriber or are from a subscribing organisation, please log in to gain full access. To explore options for subscribing to this unique teaching, research, and publishing resource for Australian culture and storytelling, please contact us or find out more.


Berry's involvement with the underground writing scene in Australia began in 1997. A Sydney writer, she has self-published a wide variety of zines [i.e., a small circulation of original or appropriated texts and images. More broadly, the term encompasses any self-published work of minority interest]. In 2008, she was writer-in-residence at the Deutsches Literaturinstitut Leipzig, Germany.

Berry's visual arts work has been exhibited in galleries including the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia and the National Gallery of Australia. The author of two memoires (Ninety9 and Strawberry Hills Forever), she published Mirror Sydney, a collection of essays on Sydney's marginal places, in 2017: it won the Mascara Avant-garde Awards (Non-fiction) and was longlisted for both the Kibble Award and the Australian Book Industry Award (Small Publisher's Adult Book of the Year).

Most Referenced Works

Personal Awards

2018 recipient Australia Council Grants, Awards and Fellowships Literature

awarded $41,835.00

Awards for Works

y separately published work icon Mirror Sydney Artarmon : Giramondo Publishing , 2017 11570239 2017 selected work essay

‘These places were like resistors on a circuit board. My thoughts stuck to them. They had auras: each gave me a strong feeling that there was, embedded amid the everyday, an order of unpredictable things.’

In her delicately wrought essays and hand-drawn maps, Vanessa Berry describes her encounters with unusual, forgotten or abandoned places in the city in which she was born and raised, using their details to open up repositories of significance, and to create an alternative city, a Mirror Sydney, illuminated by memory and imagination. She writes at a time when Sydney is being disassembled and rebuilt at an alarming rate. Her determined observation of the over-looked and the odd, the hidden and the enigmatic – precisely those details whose existence is most threatened by development – is an act of preservation in its own right, a testament to what she calls ‘the radical potential of taking notice’.

Berry’s work combines a low-fi DIY approach with an awareness of the tradition of philosophical urban investigation. Her unique style of map illustration was developed through the making of zines and artworks, collaging detailed line drawings with text from typewriters and Letraset.  (Publication summary) 

2018 longlisted 'The Nib': CAL Waverley Library Award for Literature
2018 longlisted Kibble Literary Awards Nita Kibble Literary Award
2018 winner Mascara Avant-garde Awards Non-Fiction
2018 longlisted Australian Book Industry Awards (ABIA) Small Publishers' Adult Book of the Year
Excavating St Peters 2016 single work essay
— Appears in: Sydney Review of Books , September 2016;
2017 winner The Woollahra Digital Literary Award Non-Fiction
Last amended 10 May 2018 14:17:19
Other mentions of "" in AustLit: