Tag: blog

Meet the Artist – Elspeth Wilson

We meet Elspeth Wilson – writer, poet, and Neuk Collective member – to talk embodiment, appreciating pop culture, and finding community with other artists.

Hi Elspeth! Could you say a little bit about who you are and what you do?

I’m a writer and poet who writes across non-fiction, fiction and poetry. I’m super interested in hybridity and blurring the lines between different genres. I often find myself coming back to the question of how we live in our bodies and I hope my work can widen the possible answers to that question. I’m really interested in how we make our bodies homes too!

I started out writing nature writing – ever since I was a child, I’ve loved spending time outdoors, exploring, playing and getting to know the world around me. I try to keep that sense of curiosity and playfulness in my work, but I also am very aware that writing about ‘nature’ in an era of climate crisis has a duty to confront that and even to problematise what we think of as ‘nature’. For instance, I’m fascinated in the distinctions we draw between animals we consider ‘wildlife’ and those we consider ‘livestock’. I hope my work can help pick apart some of the euphemistic language we use around other beings and consider different possible futures; I truly believe art – particularly art created by marginalised people – has a crucial role to play in climate justice.

Since I started writing, I’ve written more and more fiction and poetry but both are still very much imbued with a strong sense of nature and place. I’m currently working on my second novel and my debut novel, These Mortal Bodies, is coming out with Simon and Schuster in 2025 which I’m really excited about (as well as a little nervous!).

Pull quote saying: I thoroughly reject the idea of there being things we should and shouldn’t write about or things that are ‘worthy’ of art and poetry and things that are not - Elspeth Wilson

You write about pop culture in your work a lot. Can you say a bit more about that?

Elspeth’s debut poetry collection, Too Hot to Sleep (2023, published by Written Off Publishing)

Absolutely. Pop culture, particularly teen dramas and The Sims, are at the heart of my poetry pamphlet, Too Hot to Sleep. When I was at school, there was definitely an idea of what poetry could be about and it was quite limited and limiting – it made me feel like poetry wasn’t for me. But in my early twenties, writing about games and TV shows that I loved became incredibly important to me – it felt fun and exciting but also cathartic

and like a reclamation. It was a bit like unmasking something – here were these things that I was so invested in, that I loved, that helped me to discover myself and I was able to re-examine all those aspects through writing.

It was also about shedding shame – often as neurodivergent people we can have a special interest in a piece of pop culture or love a certain world so much and find it supportive of our mental health. That’s something I wanted to celebrate; poetry is often about articulating emotions and experiences that can feel hard to describe in any other medium. In poems like ‘In Sims, I WooHoo with a Girl’ I wanted to communicate how euphoric and validating pop culture can be. Although my more recent projects don’t focus as much on pop culture having that kind of poppy, irreverent vibe at the heart of my work will always be so important to me. I thoroughly reject the idea of there being things we should and shouldn’t write about or things that are ‘worthy’ of art and poetry and things that are not.

Pull quote reading: Neuk’s work and being part of the collective has shown me a practical, hopeful vision for what a different art world could be like. - Elspeth Wilson

What drew you to Neuk Collective?

Community is probably the short answer! I’d been feeling quite lonely for a while in the art world because opportunities often felt inaccessible and a lot of things were centred in London. I’d made some really close friends through writing pre-Covid but in lockdown I moved away from where I’d been living previously, and was looking to connect with other artists across a range of mediums as I expanded my practice. I was also just really keen for any information about accessibility and neurodiversity in the arts so when I saw Neuk’s initial research project on neurodivergent artists and their experiences I thought yes! I previously worked as a mixed methods researcher and this kind of research felt so sorely missing – I knew I’d found a special space.

What impact has being part of the collective had for you?

Being part of the collective has been hugely important for me in terms of community and confidence. It’s enabled me to develop new skills through paid work and make new connections with lots of really interesting people. Perhaps one of the most important things for me is how Neuk has showcased best practice for

working with neurodivergent artists – or any artists really! Neuk pays fairly and on time, supports the development of its members and is really transparent and open. Whilst these things should be expected, they are all too infrequently provided in the art world, and it can become easy to settle for far less than ideal working conditions, especially when opportunities feel so few and far between. This is especially difficult for neurodivergent artists as in such a precarious world our needs are often (wilfully) overlooked, and it can feel difficult to ask for accommodations when even the most basic things like fair, on time payment are not being provided. Neuk’s work and being part of the collective has shown me a practical, hopeful vision for what a different art world could be like

You can see more of Elspeth’s work on her website and social media:

Website: www.elspethwilson.co.uk

Instagram: @elspethwrites

Twitter: @elspethwriter

Photos courtesy and copyright of the artist.