2nd ECG Literary and Art Week, London

2nd Eurasian Creative Guild Literary and Art Week, London

 1-7 October 2018


The second Literary and Art Week organised by the Eurasian Creative Guild  was a celebration of new fiction, nonfiction and poetry as well as painting, drawing and sculpture by contemporary Eurasian writers and artists. Comprising a dynamic and varied programme of 25 events, it showcased work by both established and emerging writers, poets and artists  many of whom were visiting or being represented in the UK for the first time, through readings, discussions and networking, as well as exhibitions interspersed with outstanding performances by renowned musicians.

The festival was launched at  Fitzroy House where guests and participants from throughout the UK and abroad were warmly welcomed at a ceremony hosted by Sarah Eicker and Anna Lari.

Guests were then invited  to the 5th Base Gallery in Whitechapel  for the opening of ‘Living and Dreaming’; an exhibition of contemporary Belarusian art organised by  Belarus’ Belbrand Association and the Art Haos  Gallery  in collaboration with Pro Art & Co. This was the first time that selected artists had displayed their work outside Belarus and offered audiences a rare opportunity to witness  how contemporary art is evolving in the post USSR era. Influences of the country’s grand-masters Mark Chagall and Leon Bakst could clearly be discerned, alongside subjects drawn from  traditional folklore but there were also international references including Chinese scroll paintings and Impressionist-style landscapes. In addition to the 5th Base gallery, art was also exhibited in the other venues and altogether, 20 artists, from 5 countries (Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus) were presented including : Gulnara Makhmudova, Gulzada Hamra, Yulia Krylova, Alesia Isa, Alexander Perlin, Maria Kosheleva, Anastasiya Shilyagina, Maria Larionova, Pavel Grebennikov, Roman Sakovich, Varvara Viborova, Olga Grouss, Alexander Yushkevich, Egor Batalyonok, Nicolay Buschik, Alexandra Demidova, Vasilij Kostuchenko, Ivan Semiletov, Anna Silivonchik, Alexandra Shibneva.

The 4th day of Literary Week began at the Celebrity Drop-in Centre at St. Peter’s Anglo-Catholic Church in Clapham, London, hosted by former Chair and long-time champion of ECG, Rev.David Parry. David was then joined by Danielle Irandoost at  Yunus Emre, to conduct a discussion on the intriguing interplay between art, espionage and the occult sciences within a distinctively Central Asian context whilst referencing amongst others,   writer, painter, theosophist, archaeologist and philosopher, Nicholas Roerich.

  • John Farndon, Royal Literary Fellow and renowned author, poet and  translator, then encouraged his audience to experience the Asian soul from an English-speaking perspective in ‘The Poetic Heart of Asia’ ; a series of emotionally-charged recitals of poems, some set to music, from Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Ukraine, Yakut, Tatarstan.
  • Award-winning author and journalist Stephen M.Bland  closed the day with an illustrated presentation of an excerpt from his book ‘Does it Yurt’ exploring the historic rivalry between Khiva and Bukhara and in final years before they fell under  Russian Imperialism.

The penultimate day at Rossotrudnichestvo, was dedicated to the Eurasian Creative Guild’s  Book Series 2018. Angelina Krasnogir introduced  books by the twelve authors published within the framework of Book Series ECG 2018 and distributed  to libraries and online stores to be accessed by readers throughout the world: Nadejda Kolyshkina (Moscow), Shamsiya Jubatova (Almaty), Yuriy Bashmanov (Bishkek), Nurym Taibek (London), Orazaly Sabden (Almaty), Bahyt Rustemov (Astana), Larissa Prodan (Seattle), Gulnara Kapanova (Almaty), Shahsanem Murray (Edinburgh), Dildora Tulyaganova (Ankara), Valentina Dynych (Minsk).  Laura Hamilton spoke on behalf of Shahsanem Murray and. Dilyara Lindsay represented Gulnara Kapanova, whilst the following writers spoke about their own works:

  • Nadejda Kolyshkina (Russia) presented her book “A Feast in Place of War”’ a mythological play imbued with subtle humour.
  • Larissa (Lara) Prodan (USA) talked about three of her books, with a focus on her psychological thriller “Why we are so Alike”.
  • Victoria Levin (Israel) also presented several of her literary works in an extraordinarily  tender and penetrating performance.
  • Anna Komar (Belarus) closed the session with a selection of deeply moving poems from “Recycled”, inspired by a young woman’s harrowing experiences of love and abuse. She was joined by her editor John Farndon who warmly endorsed her poetic talent.

The final  Gala Concert was preceded by a welcome address by Anton Chesnokov from  Rossotrudnichestvo, and short speeches by representatives of the Embassy of the Republic of Belarus, the Embassy of Kazakhstan,the  Russian Embassy and the Embassy of Turkmenistan in which gratitude was expressed to the Eurasian Creative Guild for the development of fruitful, collaborative projects. Laura Hamilton, Chair of the Guild, gave a sincere vote of thanks to all concerned and expressed the hope that the Literary Week would inspire exciting and innovative projects, across the arts and across the world in the future; a wish reiterated by Lilia Lukashenko, Director of the Art Haos Gallery in Minsk, who  kindly invited all members and guests to Belarus next year.

The room was buzzing with creativity and discussions would continue throughout the evening at the Pasha restaurant and the next day, but it was now time to sit back and enjoy stellar performances by talented musicians; singer Darya Khmelnitskaya and concert pianist Alexander Muzykantov from Belarus, and Brighton-based Daria Robertson and Zhanna Kemp.

The Literary Week closed at Yunus Emre, beginning with a screening of the film “Sunny”, a fascinating documentary on the life of the artist Pavel Benkov by Ali Khamraev for the  Mardjani Foundation.

Nurym Taibek then made a memorable presentation entitled “A Message of Peace, Love, Harmony and Hope for All”, supported by a film and dedicated to the Hafiz Mirza Nasir Ahmad, MA (Oxon) ; a descendant of the Mughal rulers of Punjab of Central Asian origin and one of the greatest philanthropes in the history of mankind.

Later, the Voices of Eurasia featured the winner of the  PEN Award, “Land Drenched in Tears” by Tatar writer Söyüngül Chanisheff ( Australia). Focusing on the Uighur tragedy,  the book was presented by Rahima Mahmut and Iskandar Ding, followed by essay readings of Nadejda Kolyshkina.

Turning once again to poetry, the launch of  “The World Dissolves like a Dream”, presented a collection of  130 poems by Leyla Aliyeva (Azerbaijan), translated into English by award -winning translators Caroline Walton and Anna Maria Jackson. Guests, including members of the Azerbaijani community, were welcomed by  by Carolyn Browne ( Former British Ambassador to Azerbaijan), Neil Watson, Anne Thompson and Mark (Marat) Akhmedjanov on behalf of ECG advisory board. Heartfelt recitations by Caroline Walton were deeply appreciated and afterwards, led to a lively discussion with the translator.  Further readings from her book were presented by poet Anna Komar, and Victoria Levin touched everyone with poems written during her stay in London.

With 25 events and 90 participants from 14 countries , the 2nd ECG Literary Week testified a growing interest in Eurasian art and literature in western world and we look forward to watching this grow as we prepare for the third event in London next year.

Meanwhile, preparations are almost complete for our largest, and the world’s most established,  Eurasian literary event! Now in its 7th year, the Open Eurasian Book Forum and Literature festival ( OEBF) will take place in Bangkok, Thailand from 23 -26 November.

So, it’s time to book your tickets and meet us there!

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