Wales Arts Review proudly presents a new series, Artists in Residence. Introducing Siân Norris… throughout 2017 these artists, including Siân Norris will take a leading creative role in what Wales Arts Review publishes, centring their skills on a challenging project over the course of a month. We were inundated with applications, receiving hundreds of emails about the positions, and it was no easy task whittling down all that talent to this final eleven. Our team of six editors debated long into the night, and in the end, we decided on a collection of people who we most want to work with, and whose work excites us. We think you will be excited by them too.
Introducing Siân Norris | Artist in Residence | July
Throughout July I’ll be the artist in residence at Wales Arts Review. It promises to be a really exciting opportunity and I can’t wait to start sharing my work with you all.
To get started, I thought I’d begin with introducing myself and tell you a little bit about me as well as outline some of my plans and aims for the next five weeks…
I’m a writer – a novelist, short story writer, poet, journalist and copywriter. My first book, Greta and Boris: a daring rescue was published in 2013 by Our Street. Since then I’ve been working on my new novel, The Red Deeps, which is set in 1920s Paris. I’m currently working on rewrites with my agent Kate Johnson. The novel explores the lives of women living in the Left Bank during the modernist period, with a particular focus on Gertrude Stein’s salon. To support the novel-writing process, I recently self-published a collection of essays about the (mainly ex-pat) women living and working in 1920s Paris. It’s called …and my home town is Paris, and is available on Kindle.
My short stories and poems have appeared in 3 am Magazine, Halcyon Lit Mag and some charity anthologies. As a journalist, I’ve written for the Guardian, New Statesman, the i, Prospect UK, politics.co.uk and Open Democracy. I also have a chapter in the forthcoming Dead Ink collection Know Your Place.
As well as a writer, I’m the founder and director of the Bristol Women’s Literature Festival. I’ve organised two festivals so far – one in 2013 and one in 2015, and I’m aiming to put on the third programme in 2018. The festival has been a huge success and speakers included Stella Duffy, Helen Dunmore, Selma Dabbagh, Michele Roberts, Professor Helen Taylor, Professor Helen Hackett, Samantha Ellis and many more.
Over the past year, a lot of my writing has focused on issues around home, travel, exile and migration. It’s these themes I want to explore throughout the residency.
As a result, I’ll be sharing poems, short stories and conversations that explore what home means; that tell stories about travel; that look at constructions and types of home; that asks what makes a home and what it means to be exiled from home, and that more generally reflect on travel and being away from home.
I’ll also be sharing sections from a longer work-in-progress. Between January and May 2017, I worked as the writer in residence at Bristol arts centre Spike Island. During those months I started developing a novel that looks at refugee crises past and present. The novel has two timelines – spring 2016 and autumn 1938. The former timeline follows the story of Lina, who has set up a campaign to try and prevent the deportation of a lesbian asylum seeker to Belarus. The second timeline tells Caro’s story, a journalist reporting on the refugee crisis in Eastern Europe before the Second World War. The two narratives are linked by Lina reading Caro’s memoir of the two weeks she spent reporting on the refugee crisis.
I’m interested in looking at the parallels between the refugee crisis today and what was happening back then. When I was reading descriptions of the 1938 situation, as well as watching film clips from the crisis in 1945, I was struck by how similar the images were to the news footage beaming to our screens from Eastern Europe today. Delving deeper, I saw how the hand-wringing and scapegoating language from politicians and the media also has barely moved on in the last 75+ years.
I was particularly interested in looking at the 1938 refugee crisis as I believe this is a moment in history that was terribly traumatic and devastating, yet is rarely spoken about. It was so swallowed up by the events that came a year later, that this sliver of history where thousands of people were killed or displaced has slipped out of our memory.
Please bear in mind that the work I’m sharing from this novel is a work-in-progress and very early days. It’s not polished and will be much edited in the months to come! But I wanted to take the opportunity of this residency to publish snippets as part of the wider exploration of home, travel and migration. I wanted to take this time to explore how we respond to the refugee crisis with literature and creativity, how we write about the often frightening times we are living through, and how we connect to the untold or unspoken stories of the past.
That’s it! I hope you enjoy the work!
Introducing Siân Norris’ pieces for her residency this July…
For pieces by the other chosen artists during their residencies click here.
As part of her residency at Wales Arts Review for A.i.R, Sian Norris presents two poems that she has written, Arches & Endings.
Norris presents another contribution, ‘the fur collar’ as part of her residency for Wales Arts Review’s new series, Artists in Residence.
Sian Norris presents a story as part of her residency here at Wales Arts Review for A.i.R, The Dress which explores fear and jealousy.
Siân Norris presents a poem as part of her residency here at Wales Arts Review for A.i.R, The Train which offers an exploration of darkness and uncertainty.
Siân Norris presents a story as part of her residency here at Wales Arts Review for A.i.R, Homecoming highlighting the importance of home.
As part of her residency, Sian Norris presents a new contribution to Wales Arts Review, At the Border which highlights another aspect of the refugee crisis.
As part of her residency, Siân Norris presents a new contribution to WAR, At Yarls Wood which follows three women, Lina, Caro and Tina.
As part of her residency, Siân Norris presents a contribution where she speaks to the non-profit charity Women for Refugee Women.
Tents is the latest instalment of Siân Norris’ residency, bringing together her essays, interviews, fiction, poetry and visual art.
Want by Siân Norris’ is a poem, bringing together essays, interviews, fiction, poetry and visual art to look at the refugee crisis.
Sian Norris looks back on her residency at WAR where she shared fiction, poetry, visual art & other genres to look at the refugee crisis.
Siân Norris contributed a number of pieces to Wales Arts Review as part of the new Artists in Residence line-up series.