art + design + style + ideas + junk

Newcastle’s thriving zine scene

In media on 11 August 2009 at 9:06 am

Newcastle is home to two amazing resources for zine makers and readers. A zine is — well, I’ll let this typewriter explain.

zines 1

The community arts and media organisation Octapod houses a library of zines that the National Library of Australia assessed in 2004 as a “collection of national significance”.

It started when one of Octapod’s projects, the National Young Writers Festival, put out a call in 1998 for zines to be included in an anthology called The new pollution as part of the Loud media festival. Those first submissions formed the core of a collection which today is estimated at somewhere between 2,000 and 3,000 zines from 1990 to the present – and it keeps growing.

zines 2

Unlike many other zine archives around the country, Octapod is committed to keeping its library accessible. Cataloguing and archiving the library is an ongoing project, with a work-in-progress online catalogue of the library available here.

In June 2008 Jessie Lymn, a PhD student at the University of Technology Sydney, wrote a well received strategy for preserving and maintaining the library. You can read her full report here.

zines 3

Visitors are welcome to browse the Octapod Zine Library on the first floor of TPI House at 231 King St, Newcastle, opposite Civic Park [map]. It’s open Mon/Wed/Thu/Fri from 12–5pm or you can call (02) 4927 0470 for other times.

Bird in the Hand

As well as the library, there’s a brand spanking new zine shop called Bird in the Hand, a distro (zinespeak for distribution service) run by Susy Pow. Zine makers can have their zines stocked on consignment and the shop carries about 150 titles at any one time, with most priced between 50c and $5.

Susy herself is a passionate, indefatigable resource for zinesters. When we spoke, she was pulling together details for the This Is Not Art zine fair in Newcastle on Sunday 4 October, organising talks and workshops for libraries, youth and council groups and a monthly zine-making workshop.

You can also use the space to make a zine, and there’s a collection of vintage typewriters – including the latest addition, an all-plastic Barbie typewriter – and other equipment on hand to give your zine a unique look.

Bird in the Hand interior

Bird in the Hand is one of many spaces involved in the Renew Newcastle project which is bringing life back to Newcastle’s CBD by connecting artists and other cultural projects with the owners of vacant or disused spaces. (I’ll be blogging more about this project later this week.)

Bird in the Hand is at 100a King St, Newcastle [map] and is open Thursday to Sunday, 11am–4pm. You can order online from Bird in the Hand here and find out more about upcoming events here.

zine making stuff

There are regular zine-making workshops hosted alternately by Octapod and Bird in the Hand on the fourth Saturday of each month. The next one is 29 August at Octopod, then 26 September at Bird in the Hand.

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  1. Hey! I like the story! It was good to meet you last week. Cheers, Christina

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