Tate Modern Talk

The Dictionary of Animal Languages Heidi Sopinka in Conversation with Marion Rankine

Join writer Marion Rankine as she meets author Heidi Sopinka at the launch of her new novel The Dictionary of Animal Language

The Dictionary of Animal Languages is a thrillingly elegant yet raw evocation of a woman clawing her way to a creative life, inspired by the life of surrealist artist Leonora Carrington.

Born into a wealthy family in northern England and sent to boarding school to be educated by nuns, Ivory Frame rebels. Escaping to inter-war Paris, she finds herself through art, and falls in with the most brilliant and bohemian set: the surrealists.

Torn between an intoxicating love affair with a married Russian painter, and her soaring ambition to create, Ivory’s life is violently interrupted by the Second World War. Forced to flee, she leaves behind her friends, her art, and her love.

Now, aged ninety, Ivory labours defiantly in the frozen north at her last, greatest artwork – a vast account of animal languages – alone except for her sharp research assistant, Skeet.

And then unexpected news from the past arrives: this magnificently fervent, complex woman is told that she has a grandchild, despite never having had a child of her own …

dictionary book


Heidi Sopinka

Heidi Sopinka is the founder of renowned fashion label Horses Atelier, and has also worked as a cook, a pilot, and a literary journalist, in her native Canada. The Dictionary of Animal Languages is her first book. In 2009 Sopinka spent several days with Leonora Carrington in her mexico City home, and intervewed her for The Believer magazine.

Marion Rankine

Marion Rankine is a London-based writer with work in the TLS, the Brixton Review of Books, the Guardian, Electric Literature and For Books’ Sake, amongst others. Her first book, Brolliology: A History of the Umbrella in Life & Literature was published in 2017 by Melville House.

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Date & Time

23 May 2018 at 19.00–20.00