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Tiny Owl illustrators still awaiting visas for Edinburgh International Book Festival 

Ehsan Abdollahi’s illustration following his visa denial last year

“We don’t know why issuing visas for our fab illustrators is taking longer than usual. It is so important that politics doesn’t shade our cultural landscape. Children at Edinburgh Book Festival are looking forward to seeing their favourite illustrators Ehsan Abdollahi and Marjan Vafaeian.” This was a tweet from Tiny Owl this morning. The festival starts shortly and it’s really disappointing that our illustrators are still waiting on a final decision regarding their visas for Edinburgh Book Festival. Yesterday we heard a number of authors have already been denied visas for this year’s festival, a problem that has occurred repeatedly over the last few years and it worries us more. Many have expressed their dismay at this decision, and at the slow process for Ehsan and Marjan. Author and artist Jackie Morris tweeted:

“Getting the feeling that home office dragging its feet until it’s too late for Artist in Res at to travel. Ehsan is illustrating a book for me with Saw roughs last week. Utterly beautiful.”

The Bookseller interviewed Tiny Owl publisher Delaram Ghanimifard about the frustrating situation, as well as Nick Barley, festival director. Read the article below:

A dozen authors who were planning to attend the Edinburgh International Book Festival have reportedly been refused visas with the festival’s own artist in residence Ehsan Abdollahi still awaiting a final decision.

Festival director Nick Barley told the Guardian that the “humiliating” application process would discourage artists from visiting the UK while Abdollahi, the Tiny Owl illustrator who last year battled successfully to attend the festival, is unsure if he can visit.  Tiny Owl’s co-founder and publisher Delaram Ghanimifard told The Bookseller the experience felt like a “race you are not fit to run” while English PEN described the issue as of “increasing concern”.

The Bookseller revealed Abdollahi’s plight last summer when his visa was initially denied, leading to a campaign which saw the decision overruled. This year he was appointed artist in residence at the three-week-festival but he is still in Iran, waiting to hear if his trip on 24th August will take place.

The three-week long festival kicks off on Saturday (11th August) and is the “largest public celebration of the written word in the world” featuring around 1,000 writers “and thinkers”.

Abdollahi and fellow Tiny Owl illustrator Marjan Vafaeian are waiting to see if their visas will come through, according to Ghanimifard.

“They applied on 18th July and are still waiting. Marjan was told she needed an interview about her bank statement and then both were told that their cases were not straight-forward and that they’d have to wait, and that they shouldn’t arrange anything to do with their trip,” she told The Bookseller.

The pair are due to fly in the next few weeks.

Ghanimifard described the experience as “very frustrating” and revealed it is the fourth year running that Tiny Owl has experienced these problems.

“It impacts on us [as a publisher] a lot. This is one of the only chances our illustrators will have to come and show their faces and art and work with these children. When we don’t have these opportunities it is like our hands are tied… as though we’re running a race we’re not fit for. I hope their visas come through”

Ghanimifard also believes that the problem is growing worse.

Meanwhile Barley told the Guardian that around 12 individuals had gone through an extremely difficult process to obtain a visa. They were from Middle East and African countries, with one author from Belarus, and had had their applications refused at least once, he said.

Read the rest of the article here

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Posted in Blog, News & Reviews