Wednesday, 3 October 2018

孤独 (Solitude): A Zine

Following on from my previous post about making time for making, I'm excited to share the spoils of my Riso Residency at Rabbits Road Press: a 20pp A5 zine by the name of 孤独 (Solitude). Solitude -- reader, reader -- solitude. Whilst intending to make a zine about my journey to the Japanese islands of Naoshima and Teshima, as I began to go through all the tickets and maps and photographs and notes from my time there I realised that making sense of all of that information was only part of this story, and the themes I drew out became much more about adventure, memories and spending time alone, focusing in on personal feelings and anecdotes.

Working in this way is actually pretty new for me, and this little object is one of the most personal and also, weirdly, most stripped back of probably anything I've made, and I tried to pull back from putting too much text or implicit explanation amongst what is essentially a process of visually journalling. The cover features kanji for solitude (the former of which, isolation, represents the isolated child sat in the corner eating watermelon, which I found totally fascinating / relatable.) The idea of us looking at something we don't understand as westerners on the front of this artefact was absolutely deliberate, as this was part of how I felt throughout the journey.

By design and through the facilities available at the great studio environment at Rabbits Road, the zine was produced in risograph using the colours available, but thanks to RRP's range of coloured papers to play with I incorporated a rather complicated-to-execute range of paper leaves through the zine, wanting to convey different depths of water as the colours shifted from yellow to green to blue, also coinciding with where dusk was falling as I walked around the island before a new day began and I voyaged on to the next adventure on Teshima.

Yayoi Kusama's pumpkin sculptures are synonymous with Naoshima, and they are featured relatively gently in the zine, shown on the town buses and as the centrefold, acting as the heart and the furtherest point in the zine / around the island before continuing on. This central illustration of Yellow Pumpkin is shown in a way unlike so much other capture I have seen of it, so often photographed as an iconic artwork with no people around it, or with specific people posing in front of it to capture a visual memory of them in this place. I enjoyed observing the pumpkin on its little pier with the sky and sea beyond totally overwhelming its puny manmade form, with lots of people interacting with it, taking pictures of each other, hugging it and seeing how it might be made, as well as just sitting and taking in its appearance along with where they were, and how they felt.

Other fun facts about the zine include:
1. There are 24 copies because a lot of my work is about time and I enjoy making editions for each hour of the day
2. Reflective of the theme a lot of the content was made whilst I was on my own, staying in student accomodation in Stratford, before travelling in to Newham to print my lonely drawings in good company
3. I hand stitched each copy myself using blue thread back in Birmingham, whilst watching Made in Chelsea

You can see lots more about the process of my residency at Rabbits Road Press on my @bynginc instagram page, and copies of 孤独 (Solitude) are now available to purchase via my online shop for £5 each.

Thanks for reading, and as always I'd love to know what you think to any of this.

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