Brushstrokes in Time
Sylvia’s novel published by Claret Press was 10 years in the making. In 2005, Sylvia reviewed an exhibition at the Ashmolean called ‘Everyone’s Life is an Epic’. The artist’s name was Qu Leilei and her extensive interviews with him, revealed that the epic life was Leilei’s. He was one of the founders of the Stars Art Movement (Beijing 1979). The story of their struggle for freedom of expression is inspirational. Sylvia says,”I have been interested in China from a young age but the Stars’ story was news to me despite one of the artists, Ai Weiwei now being a star throughout the world.”
The main characters in Brushstrokes in Time are all fictional but their story is told against a background of real events with the years 1976-1989 being at the heart of the novel.
Little Winter is a passionate artist from the time she can hold a pen. Like everyone from an educated background her life was tossed into turmoil by the coming of The Cultural Revolution. Cheerful and naïve, she is easily influenced and believes the indoctrination. The man she comes to love and marry, Hu Weiwei is intelligent, perceptive and unusually free thinking. His influence and her own painful experience open Little Winter’s eyes to the truth. Some chapters were hard to write but Brushstrokes in Time is about love and hope.
Listen to a sample from the Essential Audiobooks (New York) version of Brushstrokes in Time here:
Oxtopia is full. The third and final castaway book has been published on behalf of Sobell House. In 2007 Sylvia invented the mythical island of Oxtopia and in January 2008, in Oxfordshire Limited Edition magazine, she sent her first castaway Christopher Brown the then Director of the Ashmolean to the island. When the fiftieth castaway joined him there my editor, Tim Metcalfe, with the help of artist Weimin He combined the 50 interviews into a beautifully illustrated book called Oxford Castaways. Those fifty were joined by forty more remarkable people and their life stories are in Oxford Castaways 2, published by Oxfordfolio in support of Vale House.
The seemingly infinite pool of diversity ended in November 2016 with castaway No 120 – the final Oxtopian- Sylvia Vetta’s life story told by Philip Hind. Oxford Castaways 3 was published in March 2017 and the proceeds will go to Sobell House hospice.( copies available from the Sobell House shops and online shop) This 3 minute film will tell you something about the diversity of background of Sylvia’s castaways. All the world seems to pass through Oxford!
All proceeds to Sobell House when bought from the hospices online shop or charity shops:
Listen to an interview of Sylvia and one of her castaways, Simonetta Agnello Hornby, on BBC Radio Oxford;
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Qu Leilei is a founder of the Stars Art Movement. When he told me his story it inspired me to write Brushstrokes in Time. Recording the trial of democracy leader
Poems in an Exhibition : An accidental but delightful celebration of diversity in aid of Standing Voice.
Oxfordfolio are sending ‘Poems in an Exhibition’ to the printers today. Hatred of the ‘other’ has been rearing its ugly head everywhere. ‘Poems in an Exhibition’ has accidentally become a