About Tanya

Tanya Shadrick at Jan Michalski Foundation (credit Tonatiuh Ambrosetti)
A former hospice lifestory scribe, Tanya embarked on her first public work after forty with The Wild Patience Scrolls: a mile of writing composed pen on paper beside England’s oldest outdoor pool…

You can listen to Tanya discuss that undertaking with her mentor, sculptor David Nash, in the BBC Radio 4 show Pursuit of Beauty: a celebration of slow art which features both Tanya’s mile of writing and Nash’s forty-year old living sculpture Ash Dome.

Since her first performance piece, Tanya has been a writer-in-residence at many other extraordinary locations, including the Jan Michalski Foundation in Switzerland and Virginia Woolf’s garden on the Sussex Downs.

“A mile of writing. What patience it would take. What nerve. To be a woman in middle age, taking up space, claiming attention. Making an exhibition of myself. What Mother said I must never, ever do. Beyond the pale. Outside the fenced enclosure; into disrepute. Could it be done? What might it do to my life if I tried?”


All of her work seeks to call forth creative responses in others – a practice which earned her Fellowship of the Royal Society of Arts in 2018.

As founder of The Selkie Press, Tanya is the editor of Wild Woman Swimming – a journal of west country waters longlisted for the 2019 Wainwright Prize: a book she promised to make after a single meeting with its dying author, Lynne Roper.

The Cure for Sleep (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2022) is Tanya’s first book – and an open invitation for others to begin (or return to) their own creative journeys…

The Jan Michalski Foundation, Switzerland

“Tanya creates intriguing space in public places where the curious find themselves engaging in a writer’s practice and volunteering their own stories to be woven into her work.”

Mentor David Nash

“Tanya has that very rare combination of stillness and energy. Her stories captivated me instantly”

Agent Robert Caskie

“Tanya is an electrifying voice and her book reminds me of the very best memoirs – Joan Didion’s writing, Lorna Sage’s Bad Blood…”

Editor Lettice Franklin
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