Typical Girls

I've run a night called Typical Girls on-and-off since 2010-ish, playing women fronted music and organising gigs to showcase women in bands. I started it in Sheffield and I've been thinking about finally organising a Typical Girls night in Manchester for a while so I'm ridiculously excited. There are a few of us organising it this time and we've had an amazing response from other people wanting to get involved too. We'll have bands and a zine stall and other lovely things and will hopefully raise some money for Rape Crisis.


MMU FemLib society

The MMU FemLib society is starting to properly take shape, we've got some really exciting plans for the next couple of weeks and months. Currently thinking about visiting exhibitions, running workshops and outreach sessions as a society. Really exciting, especially since we're the only political society that exists within the Student Union!

logo I made this afternoon

our glorious flyers by myself and Hebe


Reclaim the Night

Will actually write things here later but for now here's a picture of our amazing banner from Reclaim the Night yesterday.


More FemLib / Reclaim the Night things

Banner progress from tonights meeting

(any excuse to get the glitter out)

Project:BABE 'Becoming' Exhibition

I'm submitting some work to project:BABE's 'Becoming' exhibition really soon and they asked me to do the launch poster for it too, here's the first version!


More Reclaim the Night things

I helped to organise a placard making workshop for Reclaim the Night with the beginnings of an MMU Feminist society yesterday. Here are some photos that Hebe took of things we came up with! 

We've started making a huge banner as well which should look marvellous. We also talked about creating a writing wall in the union where people could add their thoughts / experiences of sexual harassment and related issues.


Mental Healths

Trying to draw some of my experiences with mental illness for an exhibition (that I'll go into more in another post!). This is the first of at least a couple more that I might eventually combine into one image, who knows.

Reclaim the Night Placards

I went to a banner/placard making workshop for Reclaim the Night tonight and now I feel super motivated / inspired / all that good stuff. I ended up making loads and getting super carried away, I'm going to make some more tomorrow with women from MMU as well.

one of my placards
Reclaim the Night  is a women-led march pushing for justice for rape survivors and denouncing all types of sexual violence and street harassment. I went to the 2012 Reclaim the Night which was really good but I'm trying to become more actively involved in it this year because it's a cause I feel incredibly passionate about.


Cristy C. Road and News From Nowhere

Yesterday I got the urge to just jump on a train and land somewhere that wasn't Manchester so I spent an afternoon wandering the streets of Liverpool.

After a few hours wandering I discovered News from Nowhere, a radical, workers co-operative bookshop at the top of Bold Street. They stocked books on a huge range of interesting and important topics from political to personal and back again. I really wish there was somewhere like this in Manchester!

I was super excited to see that they also stocked a large amount of zines on a wide variety of different topics. Most of exciting of all though, was the selection of awesome graphic novels that you probably wouldn't find in most other comic book shops. Amongst the graphic novels I found Spit and Passion by Cristy C. Road. I'd come across Road's work before but had never read any of her books.

Spit and Passion covers Road's early teen years growing up as a working class, Cuban, queer girl raised by her Catholic family in Florida in the early nineties. Her art isn't something I would usually be drawn to but after a few pages I was totally sucked in by it. It suited her story perfectly and I now absolutely love it. It also seemed like more of an illustrated memoir than a graphic novel  but it worked incredibly well. 

It was a really awesome read and made me feel both angry (in a good way!) and inspired. In short this book gave me all the feels.

I also bought Twigs and Apples #6 which I'm really looking forward to reading, it has such a gorgeous cover! I might do a post about some of my favourite zines soon, who knows.

Twigs and Apples 6


Taboo Exhibition

After the Manchester Art Gallery Zine Fair I decided to investigate the Taboo exhibition being held at 2022NQ by other Interactive Arts students. The premise of the exhibition was to explore the notions of 'taboo' within our culture and the pieces covered a diverse range of topics including  sexuality, mental health, feminism and dreams.

piece in centre by Saffina Bhatti
Although I missed some of the more performance based pieces by being at the Zine Fair, I thought they still retained their intrigue after their initial display and were interesting just as abandoned objects or displays. My favourite pieces were the two sculptural works, coincidentally both dealing with issues of feminism, by Saffina Bhatti and Emily Rusby respectively, and the illustrated narrative by Nat Dunning.

by Emily Rusby
There was also a mostly architectural illustration exhibition being held in the room next door which I really enjoyed. They were taken from practitioners from a variety of disciplines and were mostly by graduates from a number of different universities. My favourite piece on display in this room was the comic by Zac Gorman which had a gorgeous use of colour.

Manchester Art Gallery Zine Fair

As part of their Thursday Lates season, the Manchester Art Gallery recently hosted a Zine Fair presenting work by a variety of different Manchester based artists and groups.

There was a good amount of people selling their art in a fairly diverse range of styles and it was great to see such a huge turnout. It's also exciting to see zines continue to rise in popularity and visibility and starting to become embraced by such prominent authorities as major galleries.

I ended up spending over my budget but I regret nothing! My favourite stalls were Project:BABE, John Allison, Joe List, Sugar Paper Zine, Young Explorer Zine amongst very many more. Here is a rubbish photo of some of the marvellous zines and comics and things that I bought.


Heroes and Villainesses

Heroes and Villainesses wrapping paper design by Jack Teagle (the most awesome wrapping paper design ever)

(...apart from maybe Astro Cats by Ben Newman)


Women and Comics

For my Contextualising Practice summative essay I've chosen to write about 'Feminism and the Fairy Tale', looking at the portrayal of women in traditional folk tales. After spending the last couple of months actively looking for graphic novels / comics either written by / aimed at women or with a female protagonist, I have decided to research this further with the possibility of discussing some of these issues in my essay. I borrowed From Girls to Grrrlz: A History of ♀ Comics from Teens to Zines by Trina Robbins from the library this week as a first point of reference, and I'm aiming to read Graphic Women: Life Narrative and Contemporary Comics by Hillary L. Chute afterwards. The culture of comics, especially the more mainstream titles / publishers has always seemed been incredibly male dominated both in terms of producers of comics and the consumers and I would like to explore the various reasons behind this.

Bacc For The Future

The English Baccalaureate is a "performance measure which recognises the attainment of GCSEs in selected academic subjects". It was first announced by the government in late 2010 and would mean that attainment is measured by GCSEs at grade A* - C in five areas: English, Maths, Science, Languages, Humanities (either History or Geography).

Bacc for the Future is a campaign to renegotiate these current plans so that the EBacc includes a 'sixth pillar of creative subjects' such as Art, Music and Design & Technology and ultimately to save creativity in schools. Creative subjects need to maintain their place as a core part of the curriculum in order to ensure the health of the future creative sector  and to provide children with a rounded and rewarding education.

The link above provides more information and a shortcut to signing Bacc for the Future's petition.


The First Cut

I recently visited Manchester Art Gallery to see their newest exhibition, The First Cut, a showcase of contemporary papercut  art. 

From the Manchester Art Gallery: 

"31 international artists who cut, sculpt and manipulate paper, transform this humble material into fantastical works of art for our stunning new exhibition.

Wonder at giant sculptures inspired by far away galaxies that spiral from the wall, explore a walk-through forest of paper trees and marvel at miniature worlds that explode from vintage staple boxes or emerge from the page of a book. 

Flocks of birds and butterflies cut from maps appear alongside artworks that feature dark fairytale imagery. Guns and grenades fashioned from paper currency and sinister silhouettes comment on social, political and economic issues."

Wuthering Heights by Su Blackwell

Map of my Entire Life by Rob Ryan, his largest single papercut to date
Wonder Forest by Manabu Hangai
Close up of a gorgeous piece which I forgot to record the title / artist for!
I really enjoyed the exhibition and one of my favourite parts was peering into glass boxes which contained tiny paper mountains. The large scale pieces worked really well in the space and gave a nice contrast and juxtaposition to the smaller pieces.

I also really enjoyed the Clore Interactive Gallery which I believe is a fairly recent addition to the Gallery. We spent most of our time lying in the giant kaleidoscope.

Miss Don't Touch Me / The Metamorphosis

For a change, I've decided to write about two graphic novels that I didn't particularly like.

Miss Don't Touch Me takes place in 1930s Paris and is the story of Blanche, a young woman who begins working in a brothel to track down a serial killer who murdered her sister. What drew me to this was definitely the art, I don't think I'd ever have read this for any other reason as I'm not generally a fan of crime fiction. I especially liked the really rich use of colour and the expressive line drawing, but that for me is one of the books few redeeming factors.
I think the writer could have  explored more the issues of gender, race and class that are so intwined in the story but sadly that didn't happen. It also struck me as being slightly exploitative whilst also commenting on the exploitation of sex workers, which I found very uncomfortable.

The Metamorphosis by Peter Kuper is a graphic adpatation of the novella of the same name by Franz Kafka, originally published in 1915. Having never loved any of Kafka's work I picked this up because I thought it'd be interesting to investigate how an already famous narrative can be adapted visually into a new form and context. In contrast to Miss Don't Touch Me I really hated the art in The Metamorphosis.


The House That Groaned / Eden / The Nao of Brown

I've been on a major graphic novel binge lately if you hadn't already noticed. I usually read them in one sitting and have recently discovered that the MMU library stock some, which goes someway towards explaining the rate of my reading them!

The House That Groaned by Karrie Fransman is more like six short stories woven into one by detailing a fortnight or so in the lives of the six inhabitants of an old house converted into six flats. I never really warmed to this, I didn't like the art (apart from the front cover!) and the stories would have been more interesting if they weren't quite so far fetched.

Eden by Pablo Holmberg is a surreal collection of mostly unrelated, unchronological 4 panel comics depicting tiny moments within Holmberg's utterly strange and beautiful created universe. One of the most recurring characters is the strange, royal animal depicted on the cover but apart from her there isn't much that ties the stories together apart from their shared world. The art is stunning - simple, dreamlike and gorgeously coloured, whilst the individual stories are at turns mysterious, funny and touching. I absolutely loved this and will none doubt read it again fairly soon.

The Nao of Brown by Glyn Dillon is the story of a young woman who suffers from the more obsessional and unpleasant side of OCD and her attempts at trying to keep down a job and find love whilst fighting her illness. I really loved this, the book itself is beautiful just as an object with its scarlet edged pages and embossed Japanese 'Ensō' on the hardcover. Both the story and the art are gorgeous. Maybe I'm biased in loving this book so much as I have the same kind of OCD as the protagonist and I haven't before noticed it specifically mentioned in any other fictional narrative. 


Two Years at Sea

I saw Two Years at Sea at The Cornerhouse a few months ago but never got around to writing about it. It covers a year in the life of a reclusive man named Jake Williams who lives alone in the Cairngorms.

Shot entirely on vintage black and white, 16mm film, the film looks beautiful. Mostly dialogue free throughout the films entirety, often with whole scenes just with, for example, Jake very slowly drifting across a pond on a raft for eight minutes.

It focusses on the small intricacies of Jake's everyday existence within the lonely, vast physical landscape that he inhabits. Although stark and melancholic, the film is ultimately uplifting in giving a glimpse into a extraordinary life that would otherwise remain vastly unknown.

Adrian Tomine

I've just finished reading Adrian Tomine's 32 Stories, a collection of his early work originally published in his Optic Nerve zine that he worked on in the early 90s. This is the first of his earlier stories that I've read and I actually enjoyed reading it more than his later work. The drawing was looser and more spontaneous and some the stories were really funny.

 I read another couple of Tomine's books, Summer Blonde and Sleepwalk, last year and although I enjoyed them, some of the stories were a little too depressing for me. The drawing is also lot more precise and lacks some of the character that I liked in his earlier work.