5 Quick Questions with Sinead Overbye

Sinead Overbye (Te Aitanga-a-Māhaki, Ngāti Porou) is a researcher and writer living in Te Whanganui-a-Tara. Her work has been published in Starling, RNZ, Turbine | Kapohau and Sport, among other places. She completed her BA in Art History in 2017, and her MA in Creative Writing at the IIML in 2018. Sinead is the editor-in-chief of the online journal Stasis, and has worked on a range of other publishing projects, including Te Rito o Te Harakeke – A collection of writing for Ihumātao. She is currently a staff writer at the Pantograph Punch.

What attracted you to writing?

I’ve loved books ever since I was a child, and have also always loved language. I think reading is magical, in that it allows you to be immersed in other people’s worlds, and to access a whole heap of experiences you might never live through in your own time on earth. So, I was drawn towards that, but also towards that ability to translate the way I experience the world into words, which all come with their own colours, textures and flavours. I love being able to express all that through writing.

What’s your favourite work of visual art at the moment?

Like the rest of Wellington, I’m really obsessed with Hilma af Klint at the moment, and particularly her large-scale works The Ten Largest (1907) that are on display at the City Gallery. I love how she translates the sensation of the world, on a more spiritual level, into colours, shapes, space and lines. I think that makes a lot of sense to me. I dabble in drawing and painting occasionally, and I find abstraction like that really inspiring. It seems to ‘click’ in my brain, as a way of experiencing the world.

Does writing about an art work change the way you experience that art work?

Yes, absolutely! I think engaging with artwork on a more personal level, and spending time writing through that, is a great way to experience art. So often we go into galleries, and might limit our experience of an artwork to those few moments we’re standing in front of it, only to forget about it afterwards. I think that space of encounter can be really fruitful, and writing about it can help deepen your relationship to a work of art.

What’s your favourite piece of ekphrasis?

That’s a really tough question. There are so many things! I don’t know if this I cheating, but I’d have to go with Florence + The Machine’s album How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful, which was followed by an epic feature film length music video called The Odyssey. It’s not strictly about Homer’s Odyssey, but it is conceptually inspired by that epic poem, and the kinds of battles that take place in hero’s journey stories. I find it really moving, and I love that Florence so often engages with works of literature, and the stories of famous writers, in her songs. It’s kind of like she’s adding to those conversations, while always bringing her own style to it.

Tell us about the workshop, what should people expect?

We’ll be doing writing exercises inspired by works of art – responding through poetry, essay or stories, it’s totally up to you! We may even create some art of our own. This session is all about how to access writing in a different way. There’s absolutely no pressure to share anything you write ‘on the spot’ – what you create in the space is just for you, my only hope is that it will inspire people to try something new.

Keen to join Sinead? Register now for the 2022 Kāpiti Writers’ Retreat