Saturday, 7 November 2015

Girls, Girls, Girls at Counter Plymouth

I missed this event last year, but actually made it to Counter this year - thank god, because it was incredibly inspiring! I went to the launch party at KARST, a contemporary art space in Plymouth, the night before the book fair with friends (see photos here) - it's safe to say I drank quite a bit, did some embarrassing dancing and requested Beyonce at what seemed to be more of an art performance rather than a 'requests invited' DJ, but they did oblige me with Single Ladies so I could throw some shapes. Win!

So with a slight hangover the following morning and in need of some art inspiration, my friends and I walked to KARST for the Counter book fair - after looking at the range of exhibitors beforehand I was quite excited to see exhibiting some all female art collectives, DIY stallers and also the amazing papers by G.F Smith. It was better than I thought it would be, the work on show had a great range of books, zines, posters and art prints covering a broad variety of different themes, there really was something for everyone.

These are just some of the brilliant stallers that caught my eye on the day:

All the girls of the Keiken Collective were so sassy! They each wore a badge which I think had a photo of each of them leaping in the air naked (I so want one!), matching outfits of a red dress and purple tights and petals on their faces - they were angels! And we chatted a lot to Jess Pemberton - the one with the most amazing laugh - seriously I had major girl crush going on there!

I bought a beautiful textured lilac beauty of a zine from Hana Omori and after wandering around the rest of the fair for an hour I kept looking over at her beautiful prints and eventually decided that I couldn't leave without one, when I returned to the stall to buy it I hovered behind everyone else crowding around, impatient to get my hands on it. Eventually I caught Hana’s eye and after a quick gushing conversation about how happy I was to buy her work and a really awkward handshake (I have no idea why I shook her hand after she hugged me - I think I've been an adult too long!) which we were both confused at! I departed with a gorgeous print on Japanese paper by GF Smith, I was so excited about having the print in my hands that I forgot to ask her what it was even about, I was just so drawn to it aesthetically that it never crossed my mind.

The other work on the stall was also amazing, I wish I could have bought all of it, the written work was beautifully curated alongside images and illustrations of nature which mirrored the petals on all the girls faces and they handed out free poetry and words as people explored their work. It’s great to see young all female art collectives out there showing their work - they had a confidence and excitement which was infectious - I left inspired and jealous of their beautiful aesthetic!

Some of the brilliant girls from the Keiken Collective

Another art collective present at Counter was The B.L.N.T (better luck next time) Collective which was a stall covered in glitter, the colour pink, collage and just all round brilliance. We kept going back to this stall and there was a zine I wanted to buy but it was just a display copy so unfortunately it was out of my reach, but I remember the stories in it were brilliant and one involved a guy who was weirded out by his girlfriends relationship with a turtle - funny and intriguing at the same time.

I purchased instead a zine that caught my eye straight away, it was all wrapped up in tissue paper and the only one you couldn't physically look at without buying it - that mystery in itself peaked my curiosity and when the artist herself, Sophie Malpas revealed that it was titled 'Consent' I knew that I had to buy it, part of me intrigued as to what was inside, but the other part of me scared of what might be there - the subject of consent is obviously a massive issue and something that I would say I was personally interested in.

My favourite part of owning this beautiful zine was not even knowing what it looked like when I bought it, symbolic in itself of consent. I had to unwrap it, tearing the tissue paper and breaking the tiny stars holding it together in order to reach what I now owned. A very simple way to talk about a very big issue, I actually felt like I was destroying it in a way by ripping the paper and watching all the sequin butterflies tumble out onto the floor. It was a simple zine, only a few pages with fractured words and images - broken and vague - once again that symbolism coming through. Really beautiful work, I only wish I could have bought more to support their collective.

Consent by Sophie Malpas

The wig wearing, zine making women of Ladies of the Press were putting together a free zine on the day called Grassroots, mixing live art performance and print media. Ana and RenĂ©e handed us a zine and a tiny plastic spider each whilst telling us all about the zine and how we should see them in London at their next event and chat about zines - in response to my friend and I who are planning on collaborating on a zine together. All the people we were meeting on the day had such an energy, it was all really exciting and great to see something like this in Plymouth, I would love to get involved next year!

Ladies of the Press were making zines for the public throughout the day.

Rachael was stalling with Pea Robinson and both of them had for sale a range of whimsical drawings and prints, I bought one from Rachael called 'Cheekies' which is a lovely little painting of some dark pink knickers with the handwritten word 'cheekies' underneath. I can't wait to find a cute little white frame for this lovely piece. Every time I see it it makes me smile, I just want to call all my underwear 'cheekies' now and I want to paint it all onto bits of paper!

A 'Cheekies' print from Rachael Jenkins.
Excited to see what next year holds and you never know I may have a stall next time with a few zines and some of my illustrations - I'm actually thinking of doing a re-run of some zines I made a couple of years ago so it is possible. See photos of the day by Dom Moore on the Counter facebook page!

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