Kate Holden

is the author of The Winter Road, winner of the 2021 Walkley Book Award and the 2022 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards Douglas Stewart Prize for Nonfiction.

By this author

Culture October 07, 2023


The biggest influence on Sri Lankan–Australian Anandavalli’s international dance career was the implacable determination of her mother, Lingambikai.

Culture September 23, 2023

Nicholas Jose on Liu Xiaodong’s Smoker

When Nicholas Jose saw Liu Xiaodong’s painting Smoker, in a Beijing exhibition that expressed the political unrest leading up to Tiananmen Square, it marked a turning point in the writer’s life.

Culture September 09, 2023

Stanley Dodds on Olivier Messiaen’s Turangalîla-Symphonie

For musician and conductor Stanley Dodds, Olivier Messiaen’s Turangalîla-Symphonie is one of the most joyous works of music ever written.

Culture August 26, 2023

Poh Yeow

The ‘wholesome and simple’ art of Ken Done and his unpretentious approach is an inspiration to this artist and former MasterChef star.

Culture August 12, 2023

Ian Michael

The theatricality of Michel Gondry’s classic film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind inspired award-winning director Ian Michael to portray love in all its glory and mess.

Culture July 29, 2023

Frances Rings

The story created by Tracey Moffatt’s powerful photographic series Body Remembers resonates in the life and work of dancer and choreographer Frances Rings.

Culture July 15, 2023

Jennifer Higgie

For artist and writer Jennifer Higgie, feminist art historian Griselda Pollock revealed the structural exclusion of women artists and their work.

Culture July 01, 2023

Paul Kildea

Not only did Chopin’s Preludes intrigue Musica Viva’s artistic director Paul Kildea, the piano the composer completed them on captured his imagination as well.

Culture June 17, 2023

Alena Lodkina

Proust’s masterpiece of autofiction, In Search of Lost Time, is a constant literary companion and source of inspiration for Melbourne filmmaker Alena Lodkina.

Culture June 03, 2023

Jodi Phillis

The wildness at the heart of Australian artist and adventurer Vali Myers is an inspiration for Jodi Phillis.

Culture May 20, 2023

Lynn Nottage

At various stages of her life, American playwright Lynn Nottage has revisited the award-winning play A Raisin in the Sun. Each time, she sees its reflections on life and class through a different character’s eyes.

Culture May 06, 2023

Will Gregory

Listening to Wendy Carlos’s revolutionary Moog versions of J. S. Bach as a child sparked Will Gregory’s enduring love for the synthesiser.

Culture April 22, 2023

Diego Ramírez

For artist Diego Ramírez, John Milton’s charismatic Satan – the central character in his epic poem Paradise Lost – is a deeply resonant figure.

Culture April 08, 2023

Zoey Dawson

When she was a child, theatre-maker Zoey Dawson watched Bette Midler in the iconic 1980s film Beaches and realised who she wanted to be.

Culture March 25, 2023

Nicky Bomba

In 1979, The Specials recorded a cover of Jamaican–British artist Dandy Livingstone’s song “A Message to You Rudy” that changed Nicky Bomba’s life.

Culture March 11, 2023

Liv Satchell

The tension between brutality and tenderness in Pina Bausch’s groundbreaking Café Müller was a revelation for theatre-maker Liv Satchell.

Culture February 25, 2023

Brendan Cowell

When he first heard Paul Simon’s song ‘The Boy in the Bubble’, Brendan Cowell realised that he wanted to be a writer.

Culture February 11, 2023

Sani Townson

For Torres Strait Islands dancer and choreographer Sani Townson, his talented family and rich cultural heritage are the roots of his work.

Culture January 27, 2023

Xavier Hennekinne

The philosopher Michel Serres showed publisher, writer and humanitarian worker Xavier Hennekinne that life can take you along several coinciding paths.

Culture December 17, 2022

Mary Finsterer

The melding of old and new in Igor Stravinsky’s radical score The Rite of Spring has been a lifelong inspiration for composer Mary Finsterer.

Culture December 03, 2022

Nadine Sierra

For opera star Nadine Sierra, the role of Gilda in Verdi’s Rigoletto has been an emotional touchstone since she was a young woman.

Culture November 19, 2022

Glenn Shea

For First Nations theatre-maker Glenn Shea, the comedy series Basically Black remains as fresh and radical as when it premiered in 1973.

Culture November 05, 2022

Jacob Boehme

When multidisciplinary dancer Jacob Boehme read Sally Morgan’s iconic memoir My Place at 14, it showed him the freedom of seeking the truth.

Culture October 22, 2022

Laura Murphy

Joni Mitchell’s classic “Both Sides, Now” has inspired writer and performer Laura Murphy since she was 14 years old.

Culture October 08, 2022

Lesley Dumbrell

Clarice Beckett’s haunting paintings, which were largely overlooked in her lifetime, are an abiding inspiration for visual artist Lesley Dumbrell.

Culture September 24, 2022

Maya Newell

Tracey Moffatt’s rebellious playfulness is a longstanding inspiration for documentary-maker Maya Newell.

Culture September 10, 2022

Joëlle Gergis

For Joëlle Gergis, the film Baraka is a reminder of the love that drives her work to preserve our planet.

Culture August 27, 2022

Jayne Tuttle

For writer Jayne Tuttle, the close relationship between life and work in Nan Goldin’s photography was revelatory.

Culture August 13, 2022

Daniel Dodds

Watching Claudio Abbado conduct the Berliner Philharmoniker taught violinist Daniel Dodds about the genius of the ensemble.

Culture July 30, 2022

Robert Drewe

For Robert Drewe, Saul Bellow’s novel Herzog opened up the richness of interiority.

Culture July 16, 2022

Paul Selwyn Norton

For Paul Selwyn Norton, seeing Trisha Brown’s Set and Reset as a teenager opened up a new world of dance.

Culture July 02, 2022

Ben Lee

Every time musician Ben Lee revisits Donald Barthelme’s short story ‘The Balloon’, it reminds him what art is for.

Culture June 18, 2022

Kate Grenville

The greatest influence on Kate Grenville was her mother, whose own passion for storytelling and record keeping is among the award-winning author’s earliest memories.

The Influence June 04, 2022

Leeroy New

For Filipino artist Leeroy New, Hayao Miyazaki’s classic animation Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind helped inform a creative evolution.

Culture May 21, 2022

Morgan Rose

For playwright Morgan Rose, Hofesh Shechter’s dancework Sun opens up the mess and contradictions of being human.

Culture May 07, 2022

Ripley Kavara

Solange’s 2016 album A Seat at the Table is a touchstone for musician and visual artist Ripley Kavara.

Culture April 23, 2022

Daniel Riley

For Australian Dance Theatre’s new artistic director, Daniel Riley, William Forsythe’s Three Atmospheric Studies – a dance work about the American occupation of Iraq – was a formative experience.

Culture April 09, 2022

Ian Strange

Ian Strange’s artistic investigations of suburban houses draw on Gordon Matta-Clark’s works on the fragility of home.

Culture March 26, 2022

Bruce Gladwin

Back to Back artistic director Bruce Gladwin found the brilliance of the ordinary in Jeremy Deller’s re-enactment of the battle between striking British miners and the police.

Culture March 12, 2022

Dimity Azoury

For The Australian Ballet’s Dimity Azoury, the power of Simon Stone’s 2013 production of Hamlet opened up the possibilities of performance.

The Influence February 26, 2022

Robert Lukins

Watching Jane Campion’s work showed Robert Lukins that writing can be as collaborative as filmmaking.

Culture February 12, 2022

Alice Cummins

Maguy Marin’s Beckettian dance work May B has fascinated and moved dancer and choreographer Alice Cummins since she first saw it in 1992.

Culture January 29, 2022

Angela Tiatia

For Angela Tiatia, the performance art of Latai Taumoepeau was revelatory.

Culture December 18, 2021

David Hallberg

The Australian Ballet’s artistic director, David Hallberg, says French choreographer Jérôme Bel opened his eyes – and broke his heart.

Culture December 04, 2021

Emma Donovan

The deepest influence on ARIA-nominated Emma Donovan is the music of her grandparents, Micko and Aileen Donovan.

Culture November 20, 2021

Amrita Hepi

Multidisciplinary artist Amrita Hepi pays homage to Adrian Piper’s groundbreaking short video Funk Lessons.

Culture November 06, 2021

Stephen Dupont

Acclaimed war photographer Stephen Dupont traces his vocation back to the shock of first seeing Goya’s Saturn Devouring His Son.

Culture October 23, 2021

Jo Lloyd

For choreographer Jo Lloyd, the discomfort of Leos Carax’s film Holy Motors is part of its uneasy brilliance.

Culture October 09, 2021

Charlotte Wood

Author Charlotte Wood explains how the still-life paintings of Jude Rae help her write.

Culture September 25, 2021

Robynne Murphy

Filmmaker Robynne Murphy is inspired by the collective genesis of a painting by sisters Lorraine Brown and Narelle Thomas.

Culture September 18, 2021

Damiano Bertoli (1969–2021)

Melbourne artist Lisa Radford, a friend and colleague of Damiano Bertoli’s, remembers his major work Le Désir, a series of performances of a little-known play by Picasso.

Culture September 04, 2021

Marco Fusinato

The whole-work aesthetic of Japanese doom-metal band Corrupted has been a major inspiration for the noise art of Marco Fusinato.

Culture August 21, 2021

Mitch Cairns

A 2007 retrospective of Tom Kreisler’s art has had a lifelong impact on Mitch Cairns’ work.

Culture August 07, 2021

Andrew Ford

Broadcaster and composer Andrew Ford discusses how Luciano Berio’s O King showed him how to start with the simple.

Culture July 24, 2021

Amanda Lohrey

Miles Franklin award-winner Amanda Lohrey on how the Hindu god Shiva danced creation into being.

Culture July 10, 2021

Constantine Costi

Opera and film director Constantine Costi discusses how Caravaggio’s The Taking of Christ has influenced his approach to staging.

Culture June 26, 2021

Bryony Anderson

Artist and puppet-maker Bryony Anderson talks about the influence of Fiona Hall’s Paradisus Terrestris (1989-90) on her work and outlook.

Culture June 12, 2021

Alexander Briger

Alexander Briger AO, an Australian and international star of classical music, discusses the influence of Mahler’s Fourth Symphony on his career.

Culture May 29, 2021

Lynette Wallworth

Award-winning documentary and digital installation artist Lynette Wallworth describes a work that influenced her.

Culture May 15, 2021

Toni Jordan

Last year, author Toni Jordan decided to write fiction full-time, in order to pursue her goal of subverting capitalism by making people feel less miserable. She is editing her sixth book and has started writing the next one.

Culture April 24, 2021

Ling Ang

A filmmaker, cinematographer and visual artist, Ling Ang has been documenting her dreams for three years with 3D graphics, installations and now a book.

Culture April 10, 2021

Rhoda Roberts

One of the pioneers of Indigenous presence on screen, Rhoda Roberts has spent her life breaking barriers for First Nations artists. But with her new job, she may finally find some time for her own art.

Culture March 27, 2021

Ben Salter

Musician Ben Salter is ensconced in a studio at MONA, making music in front of the museum’s patrons as a kind of performance art.

Culture March 13, 2021

Ursula Dubosarsky

The children’s author Ursula Dubosarsky says books can be like cats, sitting at the back of your mind demanding your attention.

Culture February 27, 2021

Dan Golding

Games composer, teacher, broadcaster and critic Dan Golding balances his different worlds in a chaos of creativity.

Culture February 13, 2021

Nardi Simpson

For Yuwaalaraay singer and writer Nardi Simpson, author of Song of the Crocodile, a sense of place is fundamental to all her work.

Culture January 30, 2021

Liza Lim

Composer Liza Lim is old-school – she still handwrites her scores, as the tactile act of notation flows into her music-making.

Culture December 19, 2020

Garth Nix

Garth Nix, one of Australia’s most internationally successful authors, says lying on the couch with his eyes shut is a crucial part of his working life.

Culture December 05, 2020

Kate Mulvany

Playwright and performer Kate Mulvany is working on her next play in an unusual space – under quarantine in a Brisbane hotel room.

Culture September 12, 2020

Choreographer Shaun Parker

On his company’s 10th anniversary, Shaun Parker – one of the stalwarts of Australian contemporary dance – looks over his shapeshifting career. “It’s weird, I didn’t like it. I loved it. You’d think I’d be more terrified, but I think, beginning to sing or dance or act, you’re becoming another role. I love that feeling of becoming someone else.”

Culture August 15, 2020

The Guaia

“The Guaia is three-and-a-half feet tall, with arms as long as she is high. The pads of her fingers are as dark and shiny as wet wood, and splayed like a tree frog’s. Her face is forever young yet strafed, all hollow and crag, sexless. She sleeps behind …”

Culture September 14, 2019

The high notes of ACO violinist Satu Vänskä

As the Australian Chamber Orchestra’s principal violin, Satu Vänskä teases astonishing music from her centuries-old instrument. But away from the stage, Vänskä’s musical tastes march to a very different beat.

Culture April 27, 2019

Angelica Mesiti emergent in Venice

As Sydney-born, Paris-based artist Angelica Mesiti prepares to show her three-channel video work Assembly in the Australian pavilion at the Venice Biennale, she talks about emotional responses, music as a salve and the vital need for connection. “Dissonance is a word that was really important to this work. Basically, the work is using music as a metaphor. It travels through dissonance, through harmony, through polyphony, through cacophony.”

Culture March 16, 2019

Unlike the Heart

A woman has a baby and she can’t stop crying. She cries not just on the third day after giving birth with the “baby blues”, but as she feeds him, as she takes congratulatory cards from the letterbox, as she watches television and opens a tin of …

Culture June 30, 2018

Artist Yvette Coppersmith on the meaning of self-portraiture

Archibald Prize-winning artist Yvette Coppersmith’s principal subject is herself, in works created with little concession to how they might be perceived by others. “To make a work without an awareness of an audience is virtually impossible, even though I began doing portraits or drawings of faces to hang in my childhood room, and that’s probably what I still want to do. It’s a very private process. It’s really private, actually. It’s only the fact that you’re an artist and part of your role is to share your work.”

Portrait June 23, 2018

Choreographer Diane Busuttil

A conversation about movement and personal history, with dancer Diane Busuttil.

Culture April 21, 2018

Evelyn Ida Morris’s piano forte

After a decade of critical acclaim as Pikelet, musician Evelyn Ida Morris is releasing the first music under their own name – a grand suite of piano songs, both sung and speechless, about the experience of being non-binary. “Non-binary is very strange, because it’s about preserving that internal space, and feeling proud of it, and finding ways to communicate it.”

Portrait February 24, 2018

Artist Stuart Ringholt

Inside the studio with conceptual artist Stuart Ringholt.

Culture November 11, 2017

Yorgos Lanthimos on the alienation of realism

Yorgos Lanthimos teams mundane musings and deadpan delivery to create humour and horror. The Greek filmmaker talks about what inspires his twisted metaphors, and who they are for.

Culture October 28, 2017

Conceptual artist Joseph Kosuth

As a pioneer of conceptual art, Joseph Kosuth’s reflections on the world’s great thinkers glow with deeper meaning. “It’s not about how, it’s about why,” he says. “So I think – not to be vainglorious about it – I instituted, for very selfish reasons, a view of art as something quite different from the inherited tradition.”

Portrait September 23, 2017

Artistic director Darren O’Donnell

A chat with urban planner, author and artistic director of the theatre company Mammalian Diving Reflex Darren O’Donnell.

Portrait August 12, 2017

A day in home daycare

Daycare operator Eliza and her life committed to children.

Portrait June 10, 2017

Theatre director Adena Jacobs

The Book of Exodus director Adena Jacobs on the ethereal connection between the stage and the audience.

Portrait February 18, 2017

Designer and film historian Peter Dietze

A pioneering Melbourne designer discovers a family link to the birth of the Indian film industry.

Portrait January 28, 2017

Dancer and choreographer Eisa Jocson

Philippine pole-dancer performance artist Eisa Jocson.

Portrait December 10, 2016

Abstract artist John Nixon

In the workroom with punk veteran and abstract artist John Nixon.

Culture October 01, 2016

Behind the scenes with Back to Back Theatre

Back to Back Theatre disorients and mesmerises audiences with large themes developed from very personal workshopping.

Portrait September 10, 2016

Choreographer John Neumeier

John Neumeier rehearses Nijinsky with the Australian Ballet.

Portrait July 23, 2016

Joe Scotland and his House of Voltaire pop-up shop

Studio Voltaire director Joe Scotland on how art can help us think about and understand the world.

Culture April 16, 2016

The irony of Father John Misty

Father John Misty delivers bruising piss-taking, knowing manipulation of celebrity, and surprisingly sincere love songs.

Portrait April 02, 2016

Carolyn Burns and Simon Phillips

A seat side stage with theatre production pair Carolyn Burns and Simon Phillips.

Portrait February 27, 2016

Futurist Daniel Crooks

A chat in the back shed with futurist and artist Daniel Crooks.

Portrait November 21, 2015

Hail Mary Coustas, aka the irrepressible Effie

Mary Coustas on comedy, her quest for motherhood, and not losing her ‘floral bits’.

Portrait October 31, 2015

Artist-photographer Richard Mosse’s journey to The Enclave

Richard Mosse turns the war-torn landscape of the Democratic Republic of Congo shockingly pink.

Culture August 15, 2015

The complex art of TV Moore comes to Melbourne’s ACCA

Acclaimed NYC-based multimedia artist TV Moore brings his immersive work home to Australia.

Portrait July 11, 2015

The ardour of Sibyl

Chapel Street's Benevolent ALIen.

Portrait April 25, 2015

On hallowed sound

Glyn Johns knows what it's like to be in a dark room with Keith Richards.

Portrait March 14, 2015

Conducting becoming for MSO’s Sir Andrew Davis

All the world’s a stage for Melbourne Symphony Orchestra maestro Andrew Davis.

Comment December 06, 2014

Malcolm Turnbull’s loyal remaking

“Few have noticed the highwire upon which Turnbull has been perched ever more precariously since the election. Only now is the wobble beginning to show. ”

Portrait November 29, 2014

Daniel Andrews, Dan of the people

The Victorian Labor leader stands taller ahead of the election.

Portrait November 22, 2014

Actor Angus Sampson plays a stubborn mule

In the world of Australian film and television, few people have spent more time on our screens than Angus Sampson.

Portrait September 13, 2014

Skin in the game

How a Footscray fitter and turner became the king of Crown Casino's male burlesque hit, Princes of the Night.

Culture July 12, 2014

Dan Sultan’s rules

For two albums, singer-songwriter Dan Sultan was ‘a collaborator’. Now he is himself.

Portrait June 14, 2014

All the world’s a stage for Robyn Archer

Quiet please, there's a lady on stage. Lights go up on renowned artistic director Robyn Archer.

Portrait May 24, 2014

There in a crisis

Dealing with tragedy, raw grief, blood and gore is just part of the job for a paramedic. Thank God they can do what they do every day.

Culture March 08, 2014

How comedian Greg Fleet survived heroin addiction

“"I didn’t want to be the boy who cried sober."”