How did that zine project come about, and why did you choose those cities?
“You hear a lot about major cities and major artists navigating them, and I was intrigued to explore more outside of my comfort zone and discover creative communities and cultures that I had not yet experienced. I’d been a very London-centric person, I lived there most of my life, and focused a lot of my energy and thought-processes around that. I really wanted to explore more artistic communities and cultures and their social status in societies. I’m very interested in people and how they navigate their surroundings.
"I’d never been to any of these places so I was jumping in with no knowledge and that’s what I wanted – I wanted to learn from people and be able to hopefully show it in print. I picked a few places I’d heard about. Glasgow I know has a very strong creative scene. I was very interested in going to Poland because I wanted to learn about how queer communities navigate the government and the politics there, and if/how they can express themselves creatively in a country that is hostile toward queer people. I’m interested in talking to people living in these places past the surface stuff you see in the media.”
How was the Kyiv experience?
“I went before the war, it was in November last year. It was amazing, it was my favourite place I’ve ever been – I love Kyiv a lot and think it’s an amazing city with really lovely people. It was very different culturally to the UK, of course. Very different visually with amazing mismatched architecture. And really, really friendly people. One thing I took away from making this project is the importance of connecting with people. Zoom is very convenient and lovely, but going to each place was such an amazing experience. I was immersed with people and we would do a more formal interview but we would hang out, they’d show me their lives in the city and I really felt like I got to experience these places and that isn’t possible without that kind of connection.”
What did you take away from your travels around Europe?
“One of the nicest things about it was realising how much focus is put on these big cities. I was going to all these smaller cities – Leipzig is about the size of Brighton – and just seeing these places and how strong the work is there in these communities. Everyone is concerned with their own spaces and circles, everyone lives in their bubble and there are billions of bubbles across the planet, but it was very eye-opening to me how true that is. We often concern ourselves with ourselves or within the peripheral of whatever media we’re given, it’s all very tailored to us – what papers you read, what shows you watch, what platforms you follow on social media. It was very interesting to see just how closed-off we actually are.
"With the art, there’s not one linking thing, but a lot of it is very raw, a lot of it is experimental as well. A lot of artists are creating very free of commercialism, there’s a lot of play involved and different mediums being used at once. One of the artists in Ukraine did paintings all in an abandoned building and did an exhibition there, and one of her main points was how the galleries in Kyiv only take established artists and it was her middle finger up to the system by painting the walls so there’s no way she can profit off this art. It’s hard to make money or be successful in some kind of way as an artist, so they’re creating purely out of social or creative wants and needs, which is really inspiring and creates a lot of raw, energetic and political work.”