Liam Roberts, a writer in the I Digress artists’ residency at The Grosvenor pub, tells us about the launch of their zine last week
With traditional local pubs disappearing at an alarming rate, what better way to celebrate them than by engaging a local team of creative types to offer a new perspective on what they mean?
Last Thursday, 29 July, was an occasion to do just that, with the I Digress collaborative writing and illustration project launching its final product at The Grosvenor in Stockwell. I Digress, the outcome of a group of local writers and illustrators, used the pub as its focal point in generating a new twist on the zine format – a booklet of interdependent illustrations and short stories that drew inspiration from the welcoming, eclectic, and altogether inspiring surroundings of The Grosvenor itself.
The I Digress project began with the commissioning of one short story by Evie Wyld and one illustration by Hannah Carding, each focussing on some of the pub’s quirkier, as well as more subtle, characteristics. Carding’s original illustration was then sent to six writers, with each of them creating a 1,000 word story based on what they saw. Wyld’s original story was similarly given to six illustrators, with each of them crafting new images that reflected something of the stories they were given. So it went on, two chains of creative activity trickling across three generations of writers and illustrators over the course of the project.
The brainchild of three Camberwell College of Arts graduates, Alison Drewitt, Naomi Sloman, and Megan Dowsett, I Digress is a new South London take on community-engaged art. “The Grosvenor is brilliant because it really is diverse in its clientele and in what it offers,” says Megan Dowsett. “Its clientele really is anyone from around the corner to punk gig followers, Scrabble players, and artists and creatives. It’s clearly a space that’s going to welcome a creative response, and inspire a creative response.”
After two months of frenzied writing, drawing, and editing, the final publication was launched last Thursday at The Grosvenor in an atmospheric exhibition which featured contributor Charlie Fish, screenwriter for The Man Who Married Himself starring Richard E. Grant, performing a reading of his I Digress submission entitled Nadine. Visitors in attendance were invited to draw and write their own Grosvenor-inspired creations in a blank-paged, open-ended “new zine,” kicking off a whole new chain of ideas.
A pub is, after all, a public place of interaction and local community. I Digress is a celebration of that (blended with a healthy dose of creative Chinese Whispers) which, hopefully, peels back the obvious to reveal a few hidden layers of what lies beneath some of the more interesting corners of the Stockwell environs.
Copies of I Digress are now available online for £3.50 for the pair of zines.