TransLit: a travelling art residency

Courtesy of the British Council
The British Council gathers Russians and Brits to explore 5 Russian cities

Map of the journey. Source: Courtesy of the British CouncilMap of the journey. Source: Courtesy of the British Council

Travel has long been an important source of inspiration for writers, musicians, poets and artists. As Aivazovsky, Shostakovich and Nabokov travelled far in search of inspiration, so too did Dickens, Turner and Bowie who drew new characters, subjects and melodies from their travel notes.


As a part of theUK-Russia Year of Language and Literature 2016 the British Council has gathered a party of Russian and British writers, artists, photographers and musicians to explore and perform in five Russian cities this autumn.

The so-called ‘TransLit’ project is an art residency which will travel along the route of Russia’s Trans-Siberian railway. The party gathers in Moscow on Oct. 23 before departing for Kazan, where they will spend a several days before travelling further east to Yekaterinburg, Novosibirsk and Krasnoyarsk. Their time will be divided between experiencing local culture, listening to people’s stories and creating new work.

An integral part of the journey will be the creative evenings in each city-stop, where the travellers will tell stories through music, poetry, readings and discussion and share new poems, songs and anecdotes inspired by their journey into Siberia.

Acclaimed British writer and researcher Andrew Dickson will speak about different interpretations of Shakespeare that he has discovered around the world. Award-winning novelists Alisa Ganieva and Joe Dunthorne will read from their work and discuss contemporary British and Russian literature with critic Konstantin Milchin. Gruff Rhys, the frontman of psychedelic Welsh rock band Super Furry Animals, will meet with local musicians and perform songs written en route.

This Russo-British expedition party will spend 14 days together, visit five cities and travel thousands of kilometres in a single train carriage. They will share personal observations, artistic collaborations, discussions and arguments via social media and an online journal.

Following the trip, fellow-traveller and British media artist Francesca Panetta will curate creative responses from all the travellers – including those of renowned Russian photographer Maxim Avdeev and documentary filmmaker Arseny Khachaturyan –  into a bilingual, multimedia special project for new culture website, InRussia.

TransLit departs Moscow on Oct. 24 and arrives back in the capital on Nov. 7 with a public event in which the travellers will share their work and experiences of Russia.