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The Secret Origin of Colossive Cartographies!

Given my, um, patchy record at seeing things through to completion, I’m surprised and delighted at how the Colossive Cartographies have turned out (although the vast majority of the credit for that obviously lands at the feet of the fantastic creators who signed up).

The idea came about after I started tinkering about with bookbinding. One of the small projects I came across was the Turkish Map Fold. It’s an A4 sheet that folds up very efficiently into an A6 cover and then pops open.

Suddenly my imagination ran away with me, and I thought it’d make a nice little format for something in print akin to a series of 7-inch singles. I had in mind things like the Study Series produced by Ghost Box (a label whose approach and aesthetic are always a bit of an influence here at Colossive). Other influences that sprung to mind were Czap Books’ Ley Lines and the unstoppable mini kuš! series of international A6 mini-comics, for a wide range of material within a tactile and hopefully collectible format.

I pinged out the idea to a few creative friends and acquaintances, and was blown away that they were all very keen to collaborate. Some of them are familiar names from the small press comics scene, but I’ve also been keen to look beyond that, aiming for an unpredictable mix that includes comics, photography, illustration, collage, word art and visual poetry. The ‘map’ concept might lend itself to explorations of place, journeys, etc, but it’s entirely the creator’s choice. Then I get them produced in colour on decent stock (and do the folding, sticking and – when necessary – setting alight myself). I was hoping that each individual issue wouldn’t be too much of an ask of the creator, but that the series as a whole would create a bigger synergy.

Series One (the first six issues) are now available – £2 each or £10 for the set. I was absolutely thrilled with the quality and variety of the work that came in. Here’s the cast list:

  • Stoic Soup by Olivia Sullivan
  • Fire Purges by Sean Azzopardi
  • Bobby Branstone’s Gloves by Jane Gibbens Murphy
  • Rest in Peace by Victoria Sellar
  • 50.9165° N, 0.7235° E by David Bray
  • The Grapple by Lucy Sullivan
Stoic Soup by Olivia Sullivan (Colossive Cartographies) Fire Purges by Sean Azzopardi (Colossive Cartographies) Bobby Branstone's Gloves by Jane Gibbens Murphy (Colossive Cartographies)
Rest in Peace by Victoria Sellar (Colossive Cartographies 4) 50.9165°N 0.7235°W by David Bray (Colossive Cartographies) The Grapple by Lucy Sullivan (Colossive Cartographies)

Series Two is currently percolating. I’ll announce creators and titles – and subscription details – when we’ve got one or two in the can, but I’m still absolutely thrilled at the people contributing. I’m even having a stab myself. And beyond that, I’m already drawing up my hit-list of talent to approach for future series. Huge thanks to everyone involved – the project obviously couldn’t have happened without you.

 

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Nan – the ‘lost’ photographs

Isn’t it always the way? When I was compiling Nan at the end of last year, I was convinced I’d once seen some photographs of Nan as a little girl. But try as I might – and God knows I tried – I couldn’t find these pictures anywhere.

And then a few days ago – when I was, naturally, searching high and low for something else of great importance – I stumbled across a grey cardboard folder containing around 30 assorted family photographs from way-back-when. (I think Dad assembled this little collection when he was going through his ‘genealogy phase’ in the late 1990s.)

Anyway, here’s the aforementioned picture of Nan when she was about three or four years old, I think…

Nan as a little girl

This would have been taken soon after the rapid change of fortunes that saw her mum, Gertrude, marry Bill – the man Nan came to call ‘Dad’.

And here’s Granddad (fourth from right, with his tin hat at a jaunty angle) and his fellow air raid wardens in Dulwich during World War II…

Granddad and the air raid wardens

I was also very pleased to find this picture of Granddad (back row, left) with his parents and siblings in around 1920…

Dyck family

Aunty Jimmy is missing from the line-up for some reason. Perhaps she was making the tea. But that’s Aunty Pussy striking a pose with a kitten in her arms in the foreground. I’m wondering now whether Aunty Pussy’s rather ‘unusual’ name was due to her love of cats. It’s a much nicer theory than some I’ve come up with over the years.

And finally, here’s Nan circa 1980 – continuing the family’s love of wearing off-kilter headgear…

Queen Nan

The crown was mine, by the way. But I didn’t mind lending it to genuine royalty…

To find out more about Nan, Granddad and Aunty Pussy (but mainly me and Nan), buy Nan for £6 plus postage; half of all profits will go to Age UK

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Why I wrote Nan

Nan coverIt’s just over 24 years since Nan died – so why suddenly write a little book about her now?

I read somewhere that most people are ‘forgotten’ within three or four generations. We hand down stories about our parents and grandparents – but beyond that, things tend to get a little hazy. I never met my great-grandmother, Gertrude – we missed one another by just over a year – but thanks mainly to Mum and Nan, I’ve been armed with enough colourful anecdotes and black and white photographs to form a vague picture of the kind of person she was. But that’s all it is: vague.

Nan, however, lives large in my mind. I don’t think a day has passed when I haven’t looked at her photograph, said her name out loud or at least thought of her. I can still hear her voice. And if I close my eyes and focus, I can feel her hand in mine. I miss her terribly.

I don’t want Nan’s memory to fade away to nothing. But Tom and I don’t have any children. We’re the last of the line in both our families. There’s nobody obvious to pass these stories on to. In the main, this doesn’t worry me. I can’t grieve for people who never existed. It’s exhausting enough grieving for the ones who actually did. And yet…

It’s hit me harder over the past two-and-a-half years since Dad died. The family home where I grew up – an end-of-terrace house with Nan’s little flat on the side – is finally empty, and Tom and I have been tackling the gargantuan task of clearing out everything my family ever owned. The clothes, the crockery, the furniture, the toys, the ornaments, the plethora of vintage sporting equipment: most of them are easy enough to part with. But what about all the photographs, the letters and the other little mementos that somehow clung on through time?

Some people would have just chucked them all in a skip. And I know that’s what will happen eventually – but not on my watch! They’ve helped me through the grieving process, to revisit the happy and not-so-happy days of the past and to tell the story of my Nan, and my relationship with her.

Nan was my ‘third parent’. I was so lucky to have her – particularly when my other two parents were pretty special, too. She spent her entire life looking after other people and never wanting anything more than what she already had. I wish I could be more like her.

So in short, I wrote Nan because I wanted to share her story. I didn’t want her to be forgotten. I wanted somewhere to store all these anecdotes and memories. I really hope you enjoy it…

Buy Nan for £6 plus postage; half of all profits will go to Age UK.