Freelance writer, author and speaker, Sylvia Vetta was born in Luton. After ‘A ‘levels, at Luton High School, she was the first in her family to receive higher education. Whilst teaching immigrant children English, as a CSV volunteer in the industrial town of Smethwick, she met her academic husband Indian born, Atam Vetta, so she knows that chance encounters can change lives.
Three children later and following a sabbatical in Illinois,(1980) where she worked on the bi-lingual programme at Urbana High School, she returned to teaching in Oxfordshire. In 1982, Sylvia and business partner, Gill Hedge, started the first monthly Antique Fairs in Oxford, at the Clarendon Press Centre, followed by a twice weekly antiques market in George Street calling it ‘Oxford Antiques Omnibus’ and finally opened Oxford’s first antiques centre in the former Coopers Oxford Marmalade Factory opposite the station.( see pic below) Sylvia and Gill affectionately named it ‘The Jam Factory’ – and the name has stuck. When the 10 year lease ended, Sylvia and Atam opened Didcot Antiques Centre and traded at prestigious fairs as Vetta Decorative Arts.( Gill became a potter)
Sylvia took up freelance writing and broadcasting on art and antiques in 1998, when she began writing features for the award winning magazine of The Oxford Times, ‘Oxfordshire Limited Edition’. She went on to write for four magazines on art, history and science related events . She has sent 100 inspirational people to the mythical island of Oxtopia. Oxtopia’s inhabitants include Sharmi Chakrabarti, Sir Roger and Lady Moyra Bannister, Lord Patten of Barnes the last governor of Hong Kong, prolific writer Brian Aldiss, folk legend Peggy Seeger, Nobel Peace Prize winner (with MAG) the sculptor John Buckley, Sister Frances Domenica, the founder of the world’s first children’s hospice, Ray Foulk, the founder of the largest pop festival ever, the Isle of Wight Festival (1968/70), physicist Christopher Watson, who helped dismantle 220 rotting Soviet nuclear submarines, Michael Smith author of Foley the Spy who saved 10,000 Jews and The Debs of Bletchley Park, Marios Papadopoulos the founder of Oxford Philomusica, and one of the three, Dame Jessica Rawson (when three women were chosen as heads of colleges in 1994 a national paper reported it as ‘Women Three-men Glum’), Lady Carnarvon, the mistress of the real Downton Abbey and Manchurian born artist Weimin He who illustrated Oxford Castaways. Joanna Harrison (artistic director of the Snowman and the Snowdog )designed the cover for Oxford Castaways 2 which was published by Oxfordfolio on behalf of Vale House.
After being awarded the Diploma in Creative Writing @ Oxford University, Sylvia decided to turn the book she was writing about the Stars Art Movement (Beijing 1979) into a novel. Brushstrokes >in Time is mostly set in China against the background of real events between 1964-1993. When the Stars artists’ illegal western inspired exhibition was closed down by the police, they marched to Tiananmen Square demanding artistic freedom to be met by serried rows of white uniformed police. Sylvia interviewed in depth, over three years, the artist Qu Leilei who was one of the 5 founders of the Stars Art Movement. She has reviewed exhibitions by another Star’s artist, the Ai Weiwei at Blenheim Palace and at the Royal Academy. Brushstrokes in Time was published by Claret Press and launched in Blackwell’s Oxford in February.
I Love You All, the story of Kennington (Oxford) choir told in a chorus of voices was published in May 2015 by Philip Hind.
Her poem An Artist Observes inspired by artist, Weimin He, is displayed on a hoarding in the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter of Oxford next to 50 pieces of his work. The hoardings will remain for a few years.
North Hoardings Revised 02-06
Sylvia is also working with film producer Victor Glynn, who taught her script writing. Sylvia suggested The Shakespeare in Oxford Project and in 2014 they filmed the workshop of Polly Biswas Gladwin’s Joe and Zara, Oxford’s own Romeo and Juliet performed by 13-17 year old young people from diverse backgrounds
As chairman of The Friends of Kennington Library she organizes popular cabaret style gala evenings with well-known guest writers. She is also interested in development issues and chaired KOA for 16 years. (click on link) Fellow resident of Kennington, Philip Hind, made this film for KOA starring Peggy Seeger in which the singer/songwriter and Sylvia enjoy a bumpy ride in a1950s MG. http://vimeo.com/philiphind/koa
She is a member of the Oxford Writers Group which publishes anthologies of short stories under the name of OxPens. (www.oxpens.co.uk)