SOLVE magazine Issue 03 2021 | Page 35

DEMOCRATIC CITIZENSHIP says . “ Otherwise all you ’ ve got is medical information and hospital leaflets . And that ’ s really telling people what to do , not necessarily connecting them with their emotional experiences .”
Medicinal art The role of graphic medicine and visual narratives through zines around mental health is being explored more seriously in research and in practice , Dr Batey says . It ’ s a topic she is working on with researchers at the University of Central Lancashire , defining the new territory of MadZines that illustrate people ’ s personal journeys with mental health .
Her own zine Future Fantasteek ! is being used by psychologists to help patients verbalise and understand the pressures of modern life – particularly around burnout and our vexed relationship with technology . “ One illustration that proved popular was a character being hit by Google Gmail icons – running and yelling as the icons are falling ,” she says .
Dr Batey is fascinated with the way humour can be used to explain emotions , especially in relation to mental wellbeing and issues around stress or burnout .
“ Using elements of humour can take the alarm out of a situation and give people a different coping mechanism ,” she says . “ Used carefully it can make people feel more in control .”
And , she says , because zines are created to be shared , people know they are not alone in their feelings .
A VacZine anyone ? A shared – and sometimes satirical – response to the stresses of the pandemic is evident in the emergence of QuaranZines around the world , including one from the Shetland Islands that brought the community together to publish it , says Dr Batey . “ And I haven ’ t seen one yet , but I ’ m fairly sure there ’ ll be a ‘ VacZine ’ coming out somewhere or other .”
Zines often work to connect communities , and , in turn , the Zineopolis collection connects a community around
Books unbound
The collection of Artists ’ Books at the University of Portsmouth is small compared with those
at the V & A Museum or Tate . But it nevertheless stretches the concept of a ‘ book ’ to its limits . Some are made from concrete . One takes the shape of a chest of drawers . Another is inflatable , needing to be blown up to be ‘ read ’. Artists ’ Books is a product of the University ’ s Ministry of Books research initiative within the Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries . Rather than books about art , they are works of art in themselves , explains researcher Dr Jac Batey .
The Ministry of Books is curated by Lee Shearman and Ros Simms . Some Artists ’ Books are the size of rooms that you can walk into . Others , such as one created by Mr Shearman , are as small as a matchbox – a miniature musical version of the Bayeux Tapestry that can be played through a mechanical music box , its notes corresponding to the position of the medieval artwork ’ s 626 human figures .
Others take a more traditional ‘ book ’ form but play with unconventional materials to elicit a particular emotional response . One about the experiences of drowning uses paper folds to evoke a feeling of the sea . Another shines like the sun when it is opened .
“ Artists are specifically trying to make books that give you a sense of wonder and also lift your spirits ,” says Dr Batey . Many also have a sense of humour . Dr Batey ’ s Anxious Homes – a guide on how not to clean up – is a panacea to the glut of modern magazines around ‘ good ’ homes and housekeeping .
“ It ’ s got ‘ top tips ’ in it , like ‘ you will notice the bathroom only ever looks clean if the taps are clean , so therefore only ever clean the taps ’,” she says . “ Generally , I use humour and satire to get a particular point across . If people laugh , then I feel like I ’ ve done it . That ’ s the goal .”
More information :
• The Ministry of Books collection , theministryofbooks . blogspot . com
• Damp Flat Books ( Batey ), www . dampflat . com
• Micro Library Books ( Shearman ), www . microlibrarybooks . com
zines by establishing a permanent resource for researchers , students and consumers . Not only does the collection preserve an otherwise ephemeral product , it also helps secure the future of zines by building an audience , awareness and opportunities to participate .
“ There ’ s a very strong network of people supporting zines and storing zines , working with them as researchers , but also as practitioners making and sharing them as well ,” says Dr Batey , whose own work can be found in more than 80 collections around the world . “ It ’ s a really delightful community to be part of .”
This authenticity , says Dr Jac Batey , is what makes zines such an effective communication tool , particularly for young people who are often cut out of traditional publishing .
More information :
• Zineopolis ArtZine collection , zineopolis . blogspot . com
• Future Fantasteek ! serial zine , futurefantasteek . blogspot . com
zineopolis . blogspot . com / p / about-collection . html
ISSUE 03 / 2021