Freelance writer, author and speaker, Sylvia Vetta met her Indian born husband, Atam Vetta, during the most racist election in England whilst teaching immigrant children English in the industrial town of Smethwick. Interested ? https://shepherd.com/best-books/mixed-relationships. Food of Love – Her memoir crossing gender, race and class will be published this year by Claret Press.
Sylvia is on her third career after teaching and running a business. She was director of Oxford Antiques Centre which she named the ‘Jam Factory’ (1987-1998) and was chairman of the Thames Valley Arts and Antiques Dealers Association between 1997-2001. In 1998 she began freelancing writing on art, antiques and history for The Oxford Times and several magazines.
After being awarded the Diploma in Creative Writing (Oxford)and interviewing in depth over 3 years Qu Leilei a founder of the Stars Art Movement(Beijing 1979) she wrote her first novel Brushstrokes in Time (Claret Press) Pinselstriche (Drachenhaus Verlag). She is interested in crossing cultures and crossing time to uncover lost histories. The historical background is the true story of the Chinese artists who marched to Tiananmen Square demanding ‘In Politics-democracy and in Art –freedom.’ Interested ? Watch the trailer.
In her second novel, Sculpting the Elephant, (2019)Harry and Ramma confront problems of colour, culture and class. The sub plot concerns the Emperor Ashoka, who was responsible for spreading Buddhism across Asia and was then forgotten for over 1000 years. (See video on home page)
Sylvia has written the life stories of inspirational people , including Qu Leilei. She invented a mythical island of Oxtopia and wrote the Oxford Castaway series in The Oxford Times for 10 years . Oxtopia’s inhabitants include Shami Chakrabarti, Lord Patten of Barnes the last governor of Hong Kong, 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, Icolyn Smith the daughter of subsistence farmers in Jamaica who founded the Cowley Road Soup Kitchen. The 120 biographical features were turned into 3 books the final one for Sobell House. ( See video on the home page for surprising Town and Gown stories )
Sylvia curated Poems in an Exhibition – an anthology inspired by art for the inspirational human rights organisation Standing Voice. For 40 years, through KOA, 15 of them as chairman she helped people help themselves in 25 countries. For one of the projects run by the Nasio Trust, with food writer Helen Peacocke, Sylvia produced Green Power: the Spirulina Cookbook. The founder of Nasio, Oxtopian castaway Nancy Mudenyo Hunt, was given the NatWest award for ‘MOST INSPIRATIONAL WOMAN’. Sylvia and Nancy have unusually written a novel together Not so Black and White which tackles difficult issues inspired by Nancy’s life experience in Kenya and the UK and all proceeds go to the charity. It was published as protests at the murder of George Floyd swept around the USA and the world . The Oxford Mail described it as ‘The book to read after the Black Lives Matter protests’.
Sylvia was given an ‘unsung hero’ award for her 40 years work in the community by Oxfordshire High Sherriff in 2018 and organised the Pied Piper Procession which helped save 20 libraries from closure. Sylvia worked with film producer Victor Glynn, who taught her script writing. She suggested the Shakespeare in Oxford Project and 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. https://vimeo.com/123886243