Thinking around how I’m going to write up the first three of my a-n Re:View bursary sessions. There has been so much discussion, ideas and material generated by these sessions it feels a bit onerous at the moment to sculpt it into some kind of order. Rather than a blow by blow account of each individual meeting I’m thinking of addressing the main areas which I specified in my application: DIY culture and the socio-political framework for my work, and ethics and aesthetics in social practice.

I spent some down time at work on Tuesday making notes which are now waiting to be written up. I find the writing process rewarding but draining. It doesn’t come easy, and it takes me a log time to articulate what I really mean. Ultimately I find it valuable but it’s not a natural means for me to communicate.

At the end of the evening I picked up a book to unwind: “Below Critical Radar: Fanzines and Alternative Comics from 1976 to Now”. I found this quote, which intrigued me, from Stephen Duncombe (cited from his book “Notes From Underground: Zines and the Plotics of Underground Culture”)

‘One might argue that underground culture sublimate anger that oherwise might have been expressed in political action”

I tweeted the quote, and asked for thoughts. The tweet generated a series of interesting comments conversations over the next day and a half about cultural activity and social action.

I wanted to find to find some way of recording this so that I could document it and also expand the conversation outwith Twitter. I have quite a lot of conversations like these on Twitter and see them as a valuable part of my research. A friend had mentioned Storify a while back and I I had a look and found it really easy to use. I think it’s going to be a useful tool.

Here is the conversation, documented…


…Continued from yesterday…

Bang in the midst of getting ready to open the Bradford Baked Zines popup shop, some exciting news. Gideon Seymour, director of Bradford arts organisation Fabric ( in touch to say that he had located a possible city centre space for the emerging darkroom co-operative.

Back in March, triggered by a Twitter conversation about the costs of developing film, six of us met up for a beer in Bradford to talk about the possibility of running a darkroom co-operative: Adam Simons, Simon Cantrill, Anne McNeil, Ivan Mack, Sam Dakin and myself. Some of us were friends (three of us as Loosely Bound zine collective members) and a couple of us hadn’t ‘met’ outside Twitter. Between us we have varying degrees of experience and knowledge of photography, from Anne who is the director of Impressions Gallery and who began her career with setting up a community darkroom at Camerawork in London in the 70’s, to myself who has sketchy knowledge but desire to learn. It was an exploratory meeting in which we talked about how we might run a darkroom co-op, and various options for spaces and possible sources of equipment.

Following the meeting, the possible leads we had discussed for finding an sustainable, affordable and accessible space hadn’t been yielding too much success.

Then the email came from Gideon. Gideon, on behalf of Fabric, has been taking on leases of an increasing number of empty shop spaces in Bradford city centre for creative purposes for some time, putting them to use variously as popup shops, galleries, artists studios and rehearsal spaces.

The space he suggested for us on Rawson Place in the City Centre, is being offered to Fabric rent and rates free for a minimum of a year, with the likelihood of it being extended to three years, All we need to do is find the money to pay utility bills and public liability insurance. Fabric deal directly with the landlord which means little paperwork or bureaucracy for the us – we just need to agree terms with Gideon and put a vinyl in the window acknowledging the support of Fabric.

None of us expected to find or be offered a space like this so quickly. The space is ideal – perfectly located in the city centre, a good size, allowing for flexible use – including a generous partitioned darkroom area plus areas for workshops and even a small gallery space, and perhaps sharing the space with a print collective. The landlord is keen to move quickly so we needed to make a decision soon. Slightly deliriously, not quite believing our good fortune, we said yes.

Two weeks on, as negotiations with the landlord are underway, we as a new collective need to catch our breath and discuss how we want to use this great opportunity. Although most of us know each other, we have only met once as a group, there’s a lot to decide: What is our vision for the space? How do we organise ourselves and want to run it? How can we share our knowledge and skills with each other and provide a community resource for Bradford?

Discussing this news with artist and curator Caroline Hick, at my first a-n re:view session with her on 15th May, I was able to trace a thread back from these events through to some of the investigations into, and conversations about generosity which have been happening over the past months, including a lunch meeting with Ivan and Georgia Mack back in March about our shared desire to find a way of sharing our creative knowledge and resources: the trialling of gift circles and skills exchange twitter hashtags; a photography skills share with Adam Simons (all documented on Wur blog here , photography conversations on Twitter leading to our new collective, and this space. Caroline suggested that the space, and the potential and opportunities it offers us, is a gift.

The next step is to figure out how use it in the best, most reciprocal way, for ourselves as a creative collective, and for the wider community.


I can’t believe its been almost 2 months since my last post.

The last 7 weeks have been an intense whirl of events, meetings and new opportunities. There has only been time for doing, action. The dust however has now settled and I’m carving some time out for thinking, reflecting, research and writing. Blogging here has always been an invaluable way of organising my thoughts, and of helping me to think more analytically about my practice and activities, and this is what I need now.

I wanted to start this process with a summary of the last 7 week’s activities. Firstly, an update on my a-n Re:view bursary (…)

I’ve had the first of my peer review sessions with each of my three designated artists: Andy Abbott, Caroline Hick and Sarah Spanton. Each meeting was a half day, one to one meeting with each practitioner. Having the opportunity to have a focussed discussion about my work with three experienced practitioners working broadly within in social practices in Bradford and Leeds (where my own practice is based) has been incredibly rich and intensive experience. I expected the process to be valuable, but I didn’t realise how much. At this point I’m actually feeling quite overwhelmed by all that was offered by Caroline Sarah and Andy in the way of critical discussion, questioning, suggested areas of research and funding – and feel I need time to really reflect on and assimilate before meeting again with each of them for my second session. I don’t think I had anticipated just how much the process would give me. In my application I had allocated myself a 3 month period in which to have 2 sessions with each artist but I’m now realising I should have given myself longer – as I need time to digest and follow up, so I can really maximise my second and final sessions. Another thing learnt – give myself more time! I’ll be posting more details of the content of the sessions in further over the next couple of weeks which I hope other artists will find useful.

Other happenings:

Just Do(ing) It, Again: The Politics of DIY and Self-Organised Culture conference: Bradford, Saturday 5th May

An exciting, galvanising day, which there was so much to learn from.

Ivan Georgia and I trialled our first gift circle (…) at the event as part of the Wur collective– we were delighted with how it went and in particular the open-ness and generosity in which participants approached the process and the subsequent discussions afterwards. It couldn’t have gone better and we need some time now to talk about what we want to happen next.

Popup zine shop, Bradford Baked Zines, 13 – 18th May

When our zine collective Loosely Bound were offered a space in an empty shop unit by Fabric to run a temporary popup zine shop, we felt it would have been a wasted opportunity just to run a shop. We didn’t just want the event to be about selling, or even specifically about zines, but to have a wider focus: as an exploration and celebration of self publishing and DIY culture in in Bradford and beyond. The opportunity to have a city centre shop space meant that we could potentially engage and involve a wider audience: so as well as stocking a wide range of self published zines books music and other material, we ran a programme of events which included workshops, talks, discussions and performances: we had a zine library which people could drop in and browse, and the opportunity for people to make their own zines. It was an all-consuming and fairly exhausting process organising all of this in such a short time (basically a month): sourcing stock, organising the events, staffing the shop, marketing… but there was so much support, interest and enthusiasm, it was a joy.We collaborated with other individuals, groups and collectives in Bradford who are active in DIY culture in the city and it felt very much like a collaborative, collective effort, fuelled by goodwill and conviviality.

Documentation of the week can be found at

Part Two of this post tomorrow..