Irish fanzine culture is well represented at the Shandon Street event

Cork is a city with a history of fanzines, the homegrown letters with counterculture roots and self-publishing – check out the importance of zines to Leeside music, football and left-wing politics in the 80’s and 90’s. Its heyday may be over, but it’s a scene that still survives, as underscored by Cork Zine Fest, founded in 2018 as the ‘doppelganger’.

“This team, apart from (co-curator) Annie Forester, who passed the baton to her from (founder) Oriane Duboz, is really four people and none of us knew each other until earlier this year – we hadn’t crossed paths says coordinator Mo Odling, who works with a team of three other people to run the event.

“The way these little folded paper things trigger that kind of fanatical kinship in people is what inspired us to get together,” she says.

“And there’s the Cork Zine Archive – there’s not just a recent lore here about what happened. There’s a sense that Cork is not only a cultural city but also a publishing city, so it was nice to just feel very motivated to go through the administrative bombshell organizing something like this and the plethora of responses that we don’t only received within the city but throughout Ireland.”

The weekend will take place at the Living Commons area on Shandon Street, an emerging ‘social arts’ venue that has hosted several community events and workshops, from repair cafes to performances. Much like Zine Fest itself, this radical community hub is a decidedly DIY affair.

“The Living Commons wants to work with things like Zine Fest for me as a member and someone doing the long-term programming there because it’s so difficult to lead these things, there are so many hurdles already, and you want it that way affordable and accessible to as many people as possible, and we want to show that something can still happen outside of the large institutions – and it still does,” says Odling.

“Having a space that brings DIY culture to life and is a living space is a game made in crazy heaven.”

Odling is enthusiastic about the lasting appeal of the medium, even in the digital age.

“The whole point of zines is that you can do them – and you should do them – however you want. People really elevate them to these beautiful, handcrafted things or stray towards sculptural work, visual art.

“It really gets to the core of why people love making zines: Because you have something to say, creative reflection, and something to reach out for that says, ‘No, that’s absolutely awesome, that’s what we don’t want.’ beautiful oil painting, took two weeks and cost thousands of euros, we want a little piece of your imagination.

  • The Cork Zine Fest takes place on Saturday 3rd December and Sunday 4th December at the Living Commons, Shandon Street. For more information on live events tonight, follow @corkzinefest on Instagram
Some of the zines for sale at Cork Zine Fest

FIVE ZINES FOR PICK-UP AT CORK ZINE FEST:

Kim Crowley – Plate: a graphic zine about place, structure and language, written by Cork-based visual artist Kim Crowley, a former curator for the Irish Pavilion at the 2019 Venice Biennale; in collaboration with artists Niamh Murphy and Eamon Ivri.

Sharon McKeown – Put Your Fruit on the Table: a monochrome zine featuring narrative illustration in monochrome shades of pink by Sharon McKeown, Co Antrim artist who received Streetmonkey Belfast’s 2018 Cool Banana Award.

Laurie Shaw – Classic Cigar Shape: Wirral-born, Cork-based singer-songwriter Laurie Shaw is somehow not content with releasing seven (!) albums of DIY music in 2022 alone.

Elize de Beer – The Story of Apricots: Elize de Beer, a Cork-based South African artist who resides at Sample Studios, looks at the culinary arts and kitchen life of her home country and the role of an overlooked fruit in the middle.

Justine Lepage – Mushroom Harvest: A cheerful, illustrated zine by former fashion editor of UCC Motley magazine Justine Lepage celebrating the wide variety of shapes and colors of mushrooms.

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