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Swimmers Club

The pioneers of aviation were never lonely

Wednesday, August 30, 2017


Who: The Shrieking Violet
Where: ,

How did the name of the zine come about?

I (Natalie Bradbury, the editor of the Shrieking Violet) am quite a quiet person. This includes being very softly spoken and I never talked very much when I was growing up. I don’t think it was due to a lack of confidence or shyness, just a different way of communicating and having a voice. We live in a society that celebrates extroverts, and praises loud people who are outgoing and funny. I was neither of those things, but felt I had something to say anyway, so decided I was a ‘shrieking violet’. I also fronted my own punk-spirited pop band, the Shrieking Violets.

Can you tell us a bit about how the zine got started?

The Shrieking Violet is the continuation of a lifelong habit of compulsive writing and publishing; I’ve been writing and creating my own stories and books for as long as I can remember, from early childhood onwards to my teens – I wrote for punk and culture ‘zines while I was at school, at the same time as the local newspaper in my hometown.

I had a lifelong ambition to be a journalist, and I did the industry standard NCTJ qualification for newspaper journalists after I graduated from university, which included aspects of page layout. I graduated into the recession in 2008, and was unemployed for a really long time, so I decided to put these skills to use in creating my own magazine.

Is it a physical photocopied affair or online or a bit of both?

It’s been a while since I’ve produced a physical copy of the Shrieking Violet (the last, in summer 2016, was He’s Leaving Home: A Guide to Hearty Vegetarian Cooking on a Budget, a one-off cookbook produced for my brother’s birthday), but all 23 past editions can be read on Issuu as PDFs and I still publish original content on the blog of the same name.

In the early years the Shrieking Violet was hand photocopied at a cheap photocopying place that charged 2p per sheet at the time, but now any print editions are printed by Marc, a social enterprise in Manchester that uses environmentally friendly paper and inks. It saves me a lot of time and energy, and the finish is much nicer.


Are there any particular subjects that you write about?

The Shrieking Violet is an art and culture magazine with an interest in cities, architecture and urban experiences. A recurring theme has been public art: or art which is experienced outside of the gallery context. This might include murals, mosaics, sculptures and other artworks in public buildings, created after the Second World War as part of social and cultural aspirations, or contemporary artistic interventions into the city that are either physical or performative and aim to change the way we see and experience the places around us, and challenge and expand our understandings of art.

Can you tell us about the city in which you are based and what influence, if any, is might have on the zine?

The Shrieking Violet was conceived as an alternative guide to Manchester, aiming to look with fresh eyes at places and culture that wasn’t considered interesting or being written about elsewhere.

It’s no longer Manchester-specific, however a lot of the content explores people, places and activities around Greater Manchester. These include interviews with artists and curators as well as special one-off guides, such as The Shrieking Violet Guide to the Public Art of Central Salford, which drew on interviews I’d done with artists and curators working in the area as well as my own local knowledge and explorations.

These days publications can get connected to their own social-media , etc. How do you think this has changed the role of the self-contained zine coming out edition by edition?

As an editor, I think part of my role is to curate content to create a coherent whole, which can forge connections between topics, imagery, places, writers and readers. This is the difference between a flow of content, for example that which is scrolled through on social media, and a one-off product such as a publication.

Do you involve yourselves in any live events – gig showcases or DJ/clubnights attached to your zine?

In the past I’ve organised ‘fanzine conventions’ at Victoria Baths in Manchester, which brought together practitioners working across print media to buy/sell/swap, learn, discuss and create together.

In the past I’ve celebrated the Shrieking Violet’s birthdays with parties featuring cake and other appropriate entertainment.


Swimmers Club has a focus on the state of independent culture at the moment (independent coffee shops, presses, record labels, etc). How healthy do you think independent culture is right now? How could the state of it be improved?

I think independent culture is in pretty rude health, if you look at the number of people creating, its visibility, and the appetite for it. However, I have a concern with gentrification: I think Manchester is at a tipping point in terms of space and access to venues, as well as to affordable housing and studio space, as the character and ownership of the city changes. There’s a need for independent culture to be recognised, supported and valued for the contribution it makes to the life of the city.

I’m also concerned about the sustainability of independent culture, in particular with regard to livelihoods. There are big issues about the lack of opportunities (or a lack of knowledge and understanding of the necessity) for payment of artists, writers and other creative practitioners, without which it’s difficult for these activities to be sustained long-term. This is a difficulty I and many others are currently experiencing – how to ensure our time and labour is appreciated and valued, and can contribute to a sustainable livelihood.

In your opinion, do you think a zine should remain an amateur affair or is it ok for it to become a little more professional?

I prefer not to see a distinction between my magazine and any other: I think good quality writing is good quality writing – and the same goes for design, art, illustration, etc – and should be recognised as such, whatever form, format or forum in which it appears.

Further Information?


Push your shoulders and hands under the surface of the water. Subcultures, independent cultures, others.