As my friend Vicky put it on the morning of the Clapton Zine Fair: today we're going to the dentist, and we're not afraid! For Board of Fun and Stars & Flowers had taken over a former dental practice premises for the purpose of a weekend of zines, live music, poetry, and socialising. The little building still has its bright yellow DENTIST sign on the shopfront, and I like that it has been kept. The man behind it all (Phil) has bought the shop with the aim of doing the place up and putting on gigs and artist events. So at the moment, the place is a little ramshackle - but I like that too. In a world where so many bars, cafes, and shops are so perfectly shiny and glassy and new, this place is refreshing - besides, there is so much potential, and today my thought was: with such a fantastically bright array of zines and handcrafted loveliness on show, who really thinks about it today?
The day started with me getting myself dramatically lost alongside a huge A-road going into Essex, and I feared being hideously late, but all worked out in the end thanks to my friend Vicky-Anne Smith playing Challenge Anneka with me. The Dentist is tucked away on a street alive with markets stalls, independent little shops galore, and so much community. It felt really nice to finally arrive on Chatsworth Road and take it all in - a sunny day too!
It was thanks to organisers Yo Sushi and Zoe Taylor that we were here. Yo is a long-standing musician (acoustic/alt-country singer-songwriter), and visual artist, and he had performed the evening before to makr the launch of his and Matt Riviere's new music releases, plus to launch the zine weekend. Zoe had found one of my perzines in Housmans radical book shop in King's Cross (go there and marvel at zines and comics, or help fill the place with even more political zines/comics, if you make them!), and had sent me an invite to have a zine stall, which was really nice.
The Dentist is a very snug shop, but an amazing amount of zine and artists' delights fitted in - with beautiful art prints, pen sketches, and colourful collages pinned to walls, high and low, DIY t-shirts hanging in windows from hangers, and zines of all stripes atop little square tables or on lowdown platforms, all sorts of home-printed tapes and CDs, badges, cards, and assorted visual goods, and everyone's positive presence filling the place. We were in our own zine and art haven for an afternoon.
I had a browse and took photos of the various stalls. I will do my best to recount the stalls. With a very tightly packed table of very brightly coloured zines and cards, was Mark Pawson. Best card for me here was one that had an image of bottles of booze and the legend: SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL OFF-LICENSE. Too true! Here, I was happy to stumble across a zine about punk history and psychogeography around Dalston (with an intro by no less than Mr Iain Sinclair) called Splitting the Atom, as well as the zine Good Fuzzy Sounds. I had read this zine at the Stuart Hall zine library, so was glad to be able to buy my own copy. I have reviewed this zine separately, as it is an ace music zine about guitar pedals.
Pete from Dead Trees and Dye was behind a stall, but not with his usual perziney wares - this time it was with his Limner art critique magazine project.
With gorgeously collaged art prints on sale, was Rosanna Thompson. We had a good chat about feminism, and in particular about a theme in one of my zines which is assumptions in society (basically woman = babymaker, and also how renting = to be scorned whilst mortgages are some sort of ubiquitous all-conquering ambition).
OOMK (One of My Kind) Zine were tabling next to us with artist Amy Lambert. If you haven't yet seen it, OOMK is a visual art zine with feminist contributors from diverse ethnic backgrounds. It's really professional, with colour photography and in depth writing, and interesting themes each issue. Sofia, who runs OOMK, also had her brilliant colour comic Talk to the Scarf on sale, which satirises the assumptions people make about religious scarves/scarf wearers (my favourites were: the little toy you can attach to your scarf as an accessory, and hiding a pair of headphones underneath during lectures! It's a neat way of helping stamp out prejudice).
Yo had ink prints pinned about the place, and his drawing zine on sale. I like his style, and it's cute seeing Zoe featuring in his art/as a muse. He also played excellent DJ throughout the day. I appreciated the diverse selection! Ace music I recall being played: Pavement, Half Man Half Biscuit, The Flying Lizards ('Money, that's what I want', classic 80s pop).
I was also really pleased that an Argentinian creative writer, Maria, from our zine collective came along, and had made her first poetry zine that very morning, bound it with pretty ribbon, especially for this event!
I must recount my thoroughly brilliant zine moment (possibly my best ever zine moment), wherein somebody's elderly godmother, dressed in lavish jewellery and cape, and very well-spoken, was standing next to a green-and-spiky-haired punk dude, and they were both looking at my zines! I think such a vision sums up the beauty and breadth of zines, really. I had a lovely chat with the godmother, and she bought two of my perzines, and gave me some sweet, encouraging words.
There was a guy who asked me if I made money from selling other people's work on our table. When I told him I give everyone's earnings to them direct, he was flabbergasted, couldn't get his head round how or why anyone could do that. He was disappointed in my lack of enterprisement, and couldn't understand why I would sell zines purely for the love of zines! Oh well! Just to round up, if you're interested, I had on sale that day: A Night's Journey by my friend Vicky-Ann Smith, and the zines Angry Violist, A Short Fanzine About Rocking, Feeling Alone? (by Human Bean zines), poetry from the aforementioned Argentinian, Maria, and some free zines that I'd printed up from the one that Cath gave me from Swansea Feminist Network, as well as selling a selection of my own from over the years.
At the end of the day, out came the homemade cake - by the trayful! Top marks to the baker for her hard work and excellent range of cakes, including chocolate with real raspberries, white cake with almonds, and bright blue iced cake too. We had earned our cake and beer. A truly excellent afternoon, in a great little shop. The Dentist are holding regular gigs, so head over some time!
This review was written by the lovely Fliss - thanks! All photographs are the author's own.