Sunday, 31 December 2017

I'm just tired and bored with myself 2017 round up

It's the end of the year, we made it! This has been a hard year for so many of us and while it can be useful to look back and think how much you've achieved this year, sometimes it's enough just to know you survived it all. 

Soz, usually I'm much more posi for my usual end of year round up, but this year has been wonderful and sad all at the same time. I lost some people, my mental health took a battering, and I'm just tired. But it's useful for me to document what I did this year, big or small, because sometimes my bad brain can make me forget or dismiss the things I've done. So here goes:

I made a bunch of new zines including Cool Schmool #2 my diary comic about being sober, ocd and mental health, eastenders, meeting Bruce Springsteen, and friendship breakups; Taking Up Space a  comic zine about being a fat girl and taking up physical space;  Queering the Art Library a mini zine about the problems regarding cataloguing, classification, and subject headings of queer titles in libraries. Oh and I made a super limited Nikki Bella zine which was honestly the most fun thing I've made all year.  

I did zine workshops at Tate, Barbican, and Sunday zine club, and also tabled at some pretty ace zine fairs this year including Leeds Central Library, Glasgow zine fest, DIY Cultures, Sheffield Zine Fair, Bent Fest, Weirdo Zine Fest, and Leeds zine fair. 

Pic by Chiara Gambuto

I played gigs and went on tour with my band The Potentials. It's been a quiet year for us but we played Slayerfest, went on tour with Charmpit, and played at a singalong Buffy screening helping audience members cheat on the Buffy quiz. 

My chapter 'Is there anybody alive out there? Growing up queer with Bruce' was published in the book Bruce Springsteen and popular music which is out now! This is 3 years in the making and it's been so exciting to have my contribution in print, I feel super lucky. 

My zine series Me and Bruce was also added to the Bruce Springsteen Archives and Center for American Music at Monmouth University, NJ. I swear I'm getting closer to Bruce day by day. 

Barbican Art box teacher resource zine
I started working on the Barbican Art Box project as zine artist and workshop facilitator, working with some incredible artists and a brilliant creative learning team. The project is only halfway through and in the new few months I'll be compiling some zines with the selected schools for the project and can't wait!

My display of queer zines at Tate Britain June - Aug2017
I organised a series of queer show and tell events at Tate Library in response to the Queer British Art exhibition and compiled the queer collaging zine produced at Tate Modern. And I was really excited to be able to organise a display of queer zines at Tate Britain which ran throughout the summer.

I hosted the UK and Ireland zine librarians meeting and also compiled the online directory of UK and Ireland zine libraries. 

Nia Jax makes everything better
I also got into wrestling in a big way. Top tip: if your mental health is shit and you can't leave the house I highly recommend watching wrestling all day. I even went to my first wrestling training session and although I couldn't do a forward roll I did learn how to do squats while another girl was flung over my shoulders. Bring on Royal Rumble!

But most importantly, I grew out my fringe, had amazing friends, and muted every group chat I'm currently in. Thanks to everyone I saw this year at zine fairs and gigs,  thanks to my queer family for absolutely everything, and thanks to Bruce Springsteen as always.

New year = new zines and more naps.

Friday, 8 December 2017

Making zines at the Barbican

Earlier this year I started work on super exciting zine project with the Barbican's creative learning team, collaborating with artists Paula Varjack, Rhiannon Adam, and Maki Suzuki on the 2017 Barbican Art Box project.

The Barbican Art Box is an annual project where artists are partnered with young people via the Barbican and provided with a box of materials and ideas culminating in a final piece of work. This years Barbican Art Box is in response to the Barbican's recent Basquiat exhibition and sees schools taking the idea of Basquiat and his work to create art pieces and creating a final zine at the end.

We are now at the halfway point in the project and I just delivered my final workshop of the year and I'm so excited to see what zines we can all make!

The creative learning team's teacher resource zine 

We started out by meeting the teachers from each school, introducing them to the exhibition and the three artists involved, and looking at ways to interpret some of the items inside the box. I then gave an intro to zines and zine making, exploring different types of zines from art zines, perzines, political zines, fanzines, and getting stuck in and making zines with teachers and artists. Other Barbican box projects have culminated in much more 'proper' publications like slick photobooks and I wanted to get everyone used to the idea that zines are shoddy looking, full of collage, cut and paste, using diy tools and ideas. It was a fun afternoon of zine making!

Some of the zines made during the teacher CPD day

Then we started introducing groups from each school to the project. Each school came to visit the Barbican and had an amazing tour of the exhibition. I then gave an intro to zines, drawing comparisons between fanzines and tumblrs, perzines and instagram, and getting everyone to think about diy self-publishing in relation to Basquiat. 
I brought in zines from home and asked everyone to pick a zine and summarise: What is the zine about? Why did someone make this? And how did they make this?

Some of the zines we looked at in the workshops

We then did some zine making, with each group making their own mini zines. These could be fanzines about their favourite things, or perzines about their lives, or art zines featuring original collages and art work, all inspired by Basquiat in some way.

We split each group in two so that while one group looked round the exhibition the other group were learning about and making zines with me, then we'd switch. It was interesting to see the differences between both groups. The first group who hadn't yet seen the exhibition nearly always wanted to try and replicate the zines we'd looked at as examples of zine aesthetics, and the second group who had come directly from viewing the exhibition seemed to be more in tune with Basquiat's style, dropping in symbols, graffiti, drawings of crowns, and text as part of their zines.

In the last 3 months I've run the same Basquiat inspired zine making workshop at total of 15 times and each time has been completely different. Everyone has their own take on zines: some are very personal and raw, some are just about cats, and some have been directly inspired by Basquiat and his art. In the 15 workshops there have been 8 football zines, 4 slime zines, 4 makeup zines, an Ed Sheeran zine, and at least 2 zine have made me cry.

Collage workshops with The Garden School

Rhiannon, Maki, and Paul have started visiting the schools to get started on some amazing making, and I can't wait to see what each school comes up with. I'll be back to do more visits with them at the end of January and through February to pull together their art works into a collaborative zine, as well as creating some smaller mini zines. The final zines will then be launched in March and everyone will get to see what each school has been up to.

And that's why I haven't made a zine of my own in a while.