The fictional Walker children are much-loved characters in Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons, a quintessentially English family in an archetypal English children’s classic. But it was an Anglo-Armenian family that provided the inspiration for the Walkers, and now with a new book of short stories, fellow Anglo-Armenian artist Karen Babayan has embarked on a mission to firmly re-establish the connection using newly-appraised correspondence and diaries.
Taqui, Susan, Mavis (known to her family as Titty), Roger and Brigit Altounyan lived in Aleppo in Syria. They met Ransome during a summer holiday of sailing, fishing and camping in the Lake District in 1928. Their experiences of learning to sail on Coniston Water inspired the author and journalist to write his first book of fiction for children.
Dr Karen Babayan was born in Iran to Armenian/British parents, moving to Leeds in November 1978 just prior to the Islamic Revolution of January 1979. Babayan is a multi-disciplinary artist whose work engages with audiences through the visual and performing arts and creative writing. In 2016 she gained a PhD in Contemporary Art Practice from Leeds Beckett University, and was awarded C-Art Cumbria Artist of the Year.