During their Remote Residency with Metal curator Leah Jones and researcher Jade French created a digital zine titled #Quaranzine: self-advocates in lockdown. In this blogpost Leah and Jade reflect on their experience of making the zine while under lockdown.
Hello reader, it’s Leah and Jade. Can you believe it? We’re already at the end of our month long ‘Remote Residency’ with Metal. For us, it’s flown by. During our residency we wanted to create a digital ‘quaranzine’ as a way of exploring how self-advocates have experienced the lockdown. Self-advocacy is about learning disabled people having a voice and speaking up for themselves. We wanted to use our residency to test out zining as a way to do this as well as using the opportunity to experiment with new digital ways of working. We wanted to share with you our final quaranzine, how it was created with self-advocates and reflect on experimenting with new digital processes.
Firstly, to make our zine, we first posted a call out flyer on Leah’s Positive You Facebook page inviting self-advocates to take part. Positive You is a project that supports learning disabled people to build confidence and self-esteem through creative methods and has lots of self-advocates and their support networks linked to it. The call out told people that we were interested in how they had spent their time during lockdown, and we wanted to know how they felt about this unusual experience. The call out explained the types of things they could contribute to zine such as videos, pictures, writing, collages, drawing etc, how to contact us for help and the deadline. We used various pictures to match the words on the call out to make it easier for people to understand as well as including an example of an old zine we had made.
People responded really well. Over two weeks we had ten self-advocates share their experiences. Self-advocates and their support sent their contributions to Leah through social media or email. Leah then forwarded these onto Jade who arranged the zine together into one document. We both really wanted the zine to be bright and bold so decided to use four colours as our overarching theme to bring each individual contribution together. Unusually for us, the zine was made using Microsoft Word instead of Photoshop. Microsoft Word is software that nearly everyone has on their computer. As we couldn’t do our typical other face-to-face workshops, using this universal software proved really helpful in making the process more inclusive and accessible.
Leah and her fiancé Andrew also contributed zine pages. Their pages ‘You Can’t Lockdown Love’ tells the story of how their wedding got postponed in April due to the coronavirus pandemic. Along with a handmade collage, their page also features a video with a voiceover. When the quaranzine was completed in Microsoft Word, it was then uploaded to Issuu which is a platform for online publications. By uploading it to Issuu it meant that we could add video links and hyperlinks to the zine pages, incorporating some of the fantastic footage self-advocates had sent us from songs, to mini-films to tiktoks. Uploading it to Issuu also makes it look more like a publication: we like that you can turn the pages which feels more tangible and dynamic than reading PDF.
We’ve both thoroughly enjoyed the residency and making this quaranzine. For Leah, she enjoys her work around the zines because it’s “raising people’s voices who sometimes get overlooked”. For Jade, she has appreciated the challenge of “working and facilitating in new
ways” and meeting artists from Metal’s national network. Readers, we hope you enjoy our quaranzine and it gives you a glimpse into the joyful and complex world of self-advocates. While the digital world can often close down access for learning disabled people, when thoughtfully harnessed, it can also open up vast creative potential.
Leah and Jade