This first group ended up being just the two of us, but I am hopeful that we will attract more members of the group as time goes on, and I am excited to see what happens and what we can learn from each other!
The Working Class Artist Network (Wank Collective) put up an open call on Instagram for working class artists to submit work for an exhibition taking place across two abandoned houses in Peckham (Safehouse 1 and 2, ran by Maverick Projects). I submitted a proposal to include the 3 zines I have made this year- BPD & Me, the Brexit zine and FAT. I finished FAT specifically so that I could include it in this exhibition, which was actually a really helpful kick to finish the zine as I had got a bit stuck with it for a few weeks.
I was a bit anxious to be in an exhibition full of people I didn’t know, but everyone was really friendly and it ended up being quite healing to be surrounded by other working class artists- the art world can feel really intimidating and alienating to working class people so this was refreshing! I was also concerned that because there wasn’t a theme to the exhibition that it might feel a bit disjointed, however a lot of us were working with similar themes by virtue of all being working class, so the show actually felt well put together- Wank Collective did a brilliant job of curating the work so it flowed well.
I had a bit of trouble sorting out how to display my zines and got to the venue later than I planned on the day, because of this- luckily there was a fold up table not being used so I was able to use that. I originally planned to use a shelf but we could only use pre-existing holes and as I didn’t know the space I decided against that in case they weren’t the right height or width apart for a shelf. Then I planned to borrow a table from a friend but it was too low for what I needed. I then tossed around the idea of making a shelf out of white foam board and adhering it to the wall with sticky tabs before deciding it would look tacky, and finally planned to grab some cardboard boxes from Rye Lane and stack them (you can always find colourful fruit and veg boxes from the stalls) before the organizer told me there was a spare table in the venue.
It wasn’t ideal, but I think it fit in with the aesthetic of the venue well. I need to come up with something better looking for next time though! We set up the exhibition during the day then held the private view all evening, after which we then had to de-install and clean up the space. I think this worked for the space and I liked the ephemeral nature of the show as i felt it suited my work- zines are often very temporary, made on photocopiers, distributed and then forgotten about. In terms of how I think it went I am super pleased- from what I saw lots of people stopped to read my zines and I got a lot of positive feedback, particularly in regards to how I dealt with sensitive topics like my experiences with BPD and my experiences as a person inhabiting a fat body. The exhibition as a whole was incredibly busy, to the point where it was hard to move, and received an overall positive response which was incredibly gratifying.
Big shout out to the Wank Collective Team, who did an amazing job organizing and curating the whole thing!
A selection of the other works included in the show
My zines in the show