Getting Regional in the Red Shed

Getting Regional in the Red Shed

By Erin Gray

Halifax’s Anchor Archive Regional Zine Project is a comprehensive source for East Coast community arts, self-publishing initiatives, and alternative media. With a library, workshops, and supplies galore, Anchor Archive has been a staple of the Atlantic DIY crafting scene since the summer of 2005. This summer, Anchor Archive continued its annual residency program by inviting five artists to live in the “red shed” at 5684 Roberts Street in the North End of Halifax.

Bostoner Ciarra Xyerra stayed for two weeks in June as she crafted Up the Logic Punks #1, the world’s first zine of (punk-themed) logic puzzles. Xyerra also prepared for future issues of her zine, entitled you live for the fight when that’s all that you’ve got. Says Xyerra, “I also taught a pretty informal workshop on zine distribution and Sonia interviewed me for her radio show, mostly about zine distribution and changes in zine culture in the last fifteen years or so.” Xyerra also runs Learning to Leave a Paper Trail, a radical zine distro in New England.

In July, Elif Saydam of Montreal travelled to Anchor Archive to work on textile-based projects, instructional zines, and a host of handy skillshares. Among these were an embroidery workshop/ felt-a-thon, during which Saydam showed participants how to transform raw wool into felt, and a quilting demonstration in which participants got to try their hands at log cabin patchwork construction and yo-yo quilting. Her accompanying zine, Log Cabin Quilting For You And Me, is a quilt itself–a confrontational stitch between handwritten text and patterned textiles, the zine showcases Saydam’s aptitude for diagrammatic, multi-genre inventions.

At the end of July, Leah Girardo took up residence while planning her zinemaking and book arts bike tour, The Rural Ramble Art Book and Bicycle Tour, throughout rural Nova Scotia. Already an active member at the Archive–particularly with the Ink Storm Screenprinting Collective (which shares a public-access screenprinting centre with new and experienced printers) and Books Beyond Bars (an awesome group that delivers literacy programs to provincial and federal women’s prisons), Girardo notes that the residency program allowed for her vision of “books and bikes” to become a reality.

“We are a group of artists and bicycle mechanics travelling by bicycle, visiting venues in different communities. We [show] off a collection of zines and artbooks, teach hands-on art workshops and hold bike clinics. Our mission is to bring zine, book arts and bicycle information and skills to venues and communities in Nova Scotia.”

Inspired by Bookmobiles (mobile libraries that deliver books and, increasingly, access to the internet), Girardo’s zines-on-wheels went on to tour public libraries and other community spaces throughout August. Visiting youth and community centres, public libraries, schools, and art classes, The Rural Ramble met up with local artists, writers, and folks of all ages interested in self-expression, self-publishing, and bicycle culture and use. Workshops provided independent learning experiences for diverse audiences; guiding participants in book arts and self-publishing, participants learned new skills, and left with a finished product and a resource handout.

“The bicycle is another essential part of the Rural Ramble–traveling by bike, we participate in a safe, healthy, efficient and environmentally sound means of transportation” says Girardo. The Rural Ramble held free bike clinics where they showed folks how to perform minor repairs, and maintain or improve their bikes. Notes Girardo, “Knowing how to fix and maintain one’s own bike makes bicycling an affordable and empowering transportation option.”

In addition to the artists residency program, Anchor Archive recently hosted a 24-hour zine challenge and anniversary party, during which 11 zines were completed. Their dedication to collective expression is also evidenced in their alliance with the Halifax Coalition Against Poverty (HCAP) through the People’s Photocopier Collective. Formed around the donation of a photocopier to HCAP, the People’s Photocopier Collective provides local zinesters and artists affordable, reliable photocopying. Open hours for public copier use are Sundays from 2-4pm at the HCAP office at 2420 Agricola.

For more information on the residency program, visit anchor.revolt.org/residency.html. The next Anchor Archive Print Newsletter will include writing and images from each of the shed residents. For a list of Anchor Archive zines, visit anchor.revolt.org–all orders come with an Anchor Archive newsletter and screenprinted patches. To get in contact with Anchor Archive, write to Sarah Evans/Anchor Archive, PO Box 33129, Halifax NS, B3L 4T6, Canada, or email her at anchorarchive@gmail.com.

Anchor Archive Radio Zine can be heard every second Monday from 10:30–midnight on CKDU 88.1 FM. For more information on HCAP, email capplarsen @gmail.com. For more information on the Ink Storm Screenprinting Collective, email inkstormscreen@gmail.com.

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