canberra zine emporium

Sun 16 March 2014, 11am – 4pm
Gorman House Arts Centre
55 Ainslie Avenue
Braddon, ACT 2612
Canberra Zine Emporium collective

This was the second annual Canberra Zine Emporium organised as one of three events by the collective as part of the You Are Here arts festival (13-23 March) and the fair looks to become an annual and much valued event.

Peculiar: We were tabling zines in an old 1920s dinner hall as part of a larger complex that turned out to be an ex hostel built for public servants that included garden pavillions. The location composed of alphabetisised blocks of single story buildings as you made your way to the hall. It felt like a weird mash up of country homestead crossed with some kind of military barracks/government quarantine complex. Which also describes Canberra, really.

I did feel sorry for: The zine people who were allocated tables out in the furthest, most obscured part of the open courtyard. They were isolated from all the action. It’s better to offer less tables on the day, than offer more than you have the space for, and shaft some zinesters into dark shadows.  Then again, some zinesters like dark shadows. So you could say the organisers accommodated everyone.

The crowd: Families who spoke to each other. Mums and dads, teen friends walking in little groups, toddlers being gently navigated around tables. A sausage dog in the doorway. The whole fair had a really strong community feel, like it was a Scouts Day or some kind of church fete.

But this was mixed up with the fact there were circus stuff and plays and performance art going on too, and every now and then someone in costume would walk through with a bushrangers hat, skull and bones neck scarf, and khaki gear. Or a complete vintage brown suit with bright orange shirt. You kind of looked twice because you weren’t sure if it was some young guy in costume or a potential eccentric hipster. There was at least one guy wandering around with a formal bow tie on, and I gave up trying to work it out and just enjoyed.

You know when the vibe is relaxed when: One of the zinemakers has stretched out behind his table and removed their shoes and socks for the afternoon. Looking at you, Luke!

Fashion Anarchy: So many weird clothing combos going on. A Nelson Mandela ‘I believe’ t-shirt with hawaiian shorts. Pastel tan paisley print jeans with a lacey top. An Addidas jacket with keffiyeh neck scarf. Cardigans and thongs. Vests and pork pie hats. Chubby young women walking around in ill-fitting vintage dresses with leather belts wrapped too high around their waists. Some really bad pattern floral print leggings. Just a lot of floral print in general.

Best spent money was: For me, a copy of ‘Bye‘ by that had been made on the zinemaker’s own riso, where the old red ink drum had mixed a bit with the blue in the copying process.  Sexy.

My friend kept laughing at: her copy of True Ghost Stories.

Best trade: A zine from a librarian about learning martial arts. She had replaced Buffy’s face with her own on the cover and called it Delusions of Buffy.  She wears glasses. You gotta love that.

Special appearances:
a) human:
it was great to have Robert Messenger there with a table representing his canberra typewriter museum with an assortment of antique sexy black shiny coronas and remingtons and other model friends that you could go over and tap around with. I didn’t realise it, but they were actually on sale! arg. I may have purchased one on the spot if I’d known. They. Are. So. Seductive.

Special appearances: 
b) machine:
The most hyped technology for 2014 in the Australian Capital Territory, the travelling CZE vending machine of all-local zines.
It was even the star of this news story where a demonstration of how to use the machine is included. Just in case you needed help with that.

Highlight of the day: Out in the courtyard area was a gözleme tent and a table selling vegan cupcakes, brownies, and cinnamon donuts. I may never go to another zine fair unless fresh hot gözleme are being made on-site. People were also able to bring in their own food which was nice.

Suggestion to caterers: Include strategically placed mirrors around gözleme tent so customers can check for spinach between their teeth before rocking up to total strangers and striking up conversations about cat zines.

Sweet Personal Touch:
Every tabler received a special CZE pack from the organisers including an introductory split zine from the CZE collective about how they came to be residents of Canberra. What a cool idea idea and the best personal touch ever, which I guess organising a small scale event (35 or so tablers on the day) can make possible. So lovely.

Thanks to:
Androniki for telling me I had spinach between my teeth.
Nat, Chiara and the organisers working behind the scenes for a great relaxed day. The CZE don’t charge zinemakers for tables which is super rare and highly cool and are always up to exciting hijinks like making a zine library happen at the old parlimentary house. You guys rock.