Nouneh Sarkissian was born in Yerevan, Armenia. After graduating from Yerevan State University, she worked at the Matenadaran, one of the world’s premier research institutes of ancient manuscripts. In 1991 she moved with her family to London, where she obtained an MA in History of Art from Goldsmiths College, University of London.
In addition to writing prolifically on art, music and culture, Nouneh has published more than 20 books of stories for children. Her children’s books translated into Arabic, Italian, Georgian, Russian, and Ukrainian have gained huge popularity among young readers in Europe and beyond.
In 2021, Book One of her The Adventures of Bluey and Pinky series was distinguished for excellence and nominated by the International Board on Books for Young People for the IBBY Honour list 2022 as an ‘outstanding book’. Her works have also been selected for inclusion among the top picture books chosen by librarians of the International Federation of Library Associations for the World Through Picture Books programme.
Her mother was a teacher and her father a writer. Nouneh “who was brought up in a book”, has written more than 20 books for children, is a mother and grandmother, a supporter and author of works of arts and culture, and an artist herself.
In the Soviet society, where Nouneh was raised, children were brought up to appreciate culture and to study and comprehend the importance of the written word in society. Nouneh’s love of language and her relationship with words, music and books fostered an early interest in performance and at the age of seven years old she studied music and drama alongside school life. At eight she wrote to a local radio station requesting an audience with the producers in order to obtain a working role there. This bold approach, seeking to contribute to and be a part of a medium she loved, has stayed with her ever since.
In 1971 Nouneh entered the Department of Romano-Germanic languages at Yerevan State University to study foreign languages and literature for five years. Following this, she worked at Matenadaran, the Research Institute of Ancient Manuscripts. Nouneh married Armen Sarkissian, a professor of physics in 1978. They have two sons, Vartan and Hayk and three grandchildren. Savannah, Nouneh’s granddaughter, is a constant creative source and inspiration to her childrens’ books. Together they published three books about the Blue Hippopotamus and Pink Mouse.
The family moved to England in 1991. Nouneh returned to her love of music and formed a partnership with Steinway putting on concerts for aspiring and talented musicians, including a piano recital by Kit Armstrong, 23, who she has supported since the age of 15.
In 1992 she went on to study for a Masters Degree in 20th Century Modern Art, her thesis being Arshile Gorky, the founder of abstract expressionism in America. With her husband, Armen Sarkissian, the former Armenian Ambassador, former Armenian Prime minister 1996-1997 and former president of Armenia, they supported the retrospective exhibition of Gorky’s work at the Tate Modern in 2010.
Nouneh was the Cultural Counsellor and then Chargé d’Affaires at the Armenian Embassy in the UK. Her role with the Embassy has seen her provide a platform for many artists as well as contributing to some extraordinary and diverse exhibitions such as; Fabergé which she helped to transfer from the Kremlin to Las Vegas, through to ‘Symbols and Mysteries: Art in Transition’ in Kensington, London. In between the worlds of Art, Culture and writing Nouneh draws and paints. Her work varies from highly vibrant, colourful paintings to stark and complex images in black ink on parchment paper. She had her first exhibition at Everard Reed Gallery in London in 2017.
Nouneh Sarkissian lives in London and Yerevan.
‘The Mystery of the Blue Sun’
Nouneh’s interview with Liberty Radio in Armenian.