Left Cultures magazine burst out of the cardboard and onto our shelves a few weeks ago. It does exactly what it says on the tin, celebrating culture on the left of the political spectrum.
For their first issue, they asked 50 contributors to share the art, music, film, graffiti, anything that has had a profound impact on their lives. The result is an incredible collection of stories of how Left culture has moved, inspired, galvanized and shaken us up from Tony Benn to the Manic Street Preachers, JG Ballard to Kermit The Frog.
Oh and for each story they've commissioned an illustration, making this a beautiful new piece of Left culture in its own right.
We asked one of the creators, Phil Wrigglesworth, to introduce you all to the mag. Enjoy.
So, who are the team behind Left Cultures and how did you all come together?
The Editorial team behind Left Cultures isn’t a big bunch of comrades. It’s a grand total of 2 middle aged fellas who have spent far too long discussing politics in beer gardens in Bristol for over a decade, whilst sharing and debating left cultures whilst supping tasty ale. The extended team are also fantastic, talented and we couldn’t do this without them and that’s everybody involved. We view the project as a huge collective of voices.
Sounds like fun. Who did you create Left Cultures for?
The editorial standpoint we made very early on is we want to represent the whole of the Left, whether your political thinking is Anarchist, Communist, Socialist or anything in between. Whether you enjoy film or literature or poetry or art or music, you’ll find culture for you. We aim through the project to create an online Lexicon of Left Cultures where folks out there can find a new film to watch or album to listen too that’s on the Left, but also find out who are the current generation flying the cultural flag for the Left today.
We hope it will make reader think about their own journey and the left culture that inspired them, conversations we have had with people who have read it have certainly gone that way, which has been brilliant.
We also want it to be way in for others who are unsure where their politics lie, to show that the left do have the best stories.
Haha, well there’s definitely proof of that in the first issue. Left Cultures 1 celebrates the left’s cultural past with personal stories. It feels like a real standalone mag, almost like a book. I’m so curious as to where the mag is going to go next...
We sat down, composed a very tight brief and thought we knew exactly what type of story we would get back. We didn’t get anything back like we had intended, reading the stories when they came in was just such a delight. What came to light through making the first edition was how surprising and varied the stories were. How people engage with culture and how people react to culture, everybody’s experiences are unique and different. What was obviously to us is, the question of Stories Past and Present wasn’t fully answered and we want to hear more. So here we are busy creating edition 2 and yes, the stories that have come so far are all completely different from the first edition from another eclectic and brilliant bunch of comrades.
You have 50 contributors in this issue, all with a really different approach. What was the brief?
The brief is top secret, we don’t want the Right to steal it. Well actually they don’t have any good stories to tell anyway.
Haha. Well, quite. The art and illustrations are a huge part of this issue with one for each story. How did you go about matching stories with artists and where did you find them all?
The enthusiasm from the illustration community was just fantastic, it was like almost everybody we reached out to ask to contribute had been waiting for such an opportunity for a very long time. It got to a point where artists were asking if their friends could contribute too. So, it’s wasn’t very difficult at all, it was just a joy and a total blast.
The Art Direction behind the project was to provide the artists with freedom to create, to add value to the stories with the artists own ideas and visual language on the culture being discussed. We aimed to have the publication that is just fizzing with expressive illustration from cover to cover. The response to the illustrations has been just as positive and enthusiastic as the written stories. We believe illustration is fundamentally society’s visual voice, so let’s start shouting!
‘Fizzing with expressive illustration’ it most certainly is! I couldn’t see your name on the contributors list. What would your inspirational piece of Left culture be?
Haha, well we were on the subs bench just in case any contributor didn’t meet the deadline. Our own stories have been discussed and who knows maybe they will be in the next edition or maybe not?
Okay, okay, we’ll wait and see. And finally, why did you decide to make Left Cultures a print mag rather than online?
Both of our creative journeys and practices have been focused towards print, so it’s just a natural home for us. Print gives the lexicon a physical sense of collective ownership and the joy of holding and reading it extends that connection to the reader. We couldn’t really envisage the project taking on other shape other than print.