Obituary: Sian Thomas

Judith Sian Thomas, film-maker, cartoonist, designer: born London 11 July 1956; married 1991 Sasha Vlasov; died Mariinsk, Siberia 24 June 1993.

SIAN THOMAS was first introduced to me by a television producer I had approached about a film on Bulgarian music, writes Joe Boyd. The film was never made, but Sian lived up to her billing as an expert enthusiast on Eastern Europe. She accompanied me at her own expense to the Koperivshtitsa Festival in Bulgaria in 1986 and her fluent Russian and contacts were instrumental in establishing a relationship with Bulgaria which has produced numerous discs and concert tours since then.

I was dazzled by her adventurousness and enthusiasm and willingness to take risks. Nominally a hard-working graphic designer, she would put her job aside to work on any film project in what was fast ceasing to be the Soviet Union. Her adventures while making Red Empire included being run out of Uzbekistan by the KGB, while a documentary on the Moscow police had her venturing permit-less into areas of Moldova still closed to foreigners.

I attended her fairy-tale wedding to a Russian film-maker in 1991. It took eight hours to make and eat three courses (due to the shortage of crockery) and the Welsh/Russian army of guests wandered dreamlike in and out of the woods outside Moscow like the cast of a play. Russians were fascinated by her and her fluent grasp of their language. She settled into a life in Moscow constantly interrupted by adventures: to Astrakhan to make a documentary about caviar for the BBC; to St Petersburg for the highly praised Letter from St Petersburg on Channel 4 during the winter of 1991-92; and finally to China to start the bicycle journey that led to her death.

She gave and asked freely. As I was leaving for Moscow last December, I rang to ask her what she needed. 'An aluminium sink]' she demanded. It was duly produced and the champagne, caviar and blinis were brought out in celebration.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Guru Careers: Graduate Resourcer / Recruitment Account Executive

£18k + Bonus: Guru Careers: We are seeking a bright, enthusiastic and internet...

Reach Volunteering: Chair and trustees sought for YMCA Bolton

VOLUNTARY ONLY - EXPENSES REIMBURSED: Reach Volunteering: Bolton YMCA is now a...

Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher

£150 - £180 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher Geography teach...

Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher

£150 - £180 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher Geography teach...

Day In a Page

Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor
The ZX Spectrum has been crowd-funded back into play - with some 21st-century tweaks

The ZX Spectrum is back

The ZX Spectrum was the original - and for some players, still the best. David Crookes meets the fans who've kept the games' flames lit
Grace of Monaco film panned: even the screenwriter pours scorn on biopic starring Nicole Kidman

Even the screenwriter pours scorn on Grace of Monaco biopic

The critics had a field day after last year's premiere, but the savaging goes on
Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people used to believe about periods

Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people once had about periods

If one was missed, vomiting blood was seen as a viable alternative
The best work perks: From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)

The quirks of work perks

From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)
Is bridge the latest twee pastime to get hip?

Is bridge becoming hip?

The number of young players has trebled in the past year. Gillian Orr discovers if this old game has new tricks
Long author-lists on research papers are threatening the academic work system

The rise of 'hyperauthorship'

Now that academic papers are written by thousands (yes, thousands) of contributors, it's getting hard to tell workers from shirkers
The rise of Lego Clubs: How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships

The rise of Lego Clubs

How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships
5 best running glasses

On your marks: 5 best running glasses

Whether you’re pounding pavements, parks or hill passes, keep your eyes protected in all weathers
Joe Root: 'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

Joe Root says the England dressing room is a happy place again – and Stokes is the catalyst
Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

Please save my husband

As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada