A chat with Bristol BOX zine founder | Interview

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It really came down to all of these incredibly talented and vibrant women living in Bristol

Earlier this year, Bristol-based photographer Stephanie Third launched feminist art zine BOX to showcase the work of talented women across the city. As she prepares to launch the second issue, she talks to Heather McKay about what inspired her to start, the creative process and throwing a good party…

What do you do when you find yourself surrounded by talented women? Why, launch a platform for them to express themselves, of course! For Stephanie Third, the natural thing to do was to launch a not-for-profit zine, featuring the best of Bristol women’s prose, poetry, photography and art.

“BOX is a project that’s constantly evolving and shaped by strong female artists,” she explains. “The thought process behind it really came down to all of these incredibly talented and vibrant women living in Bristol. I want to collect and share their ideas and passions with the rest of the city.” She acknowledges the Bristol scene can seem quite male-dominated at times, but stresses the zine’s ethos is not exclusive. “I don’t want anyone to get the wrong idea about BOX being a ‘women-only club’ as that’s totally untrue. The zine itself only takes submissions from women, but the events where I unleash BOX to the world are open to everyone.”

Launching in print seemed like the perfect format for the range of ideas she had been discussing with friends. “I’ve always been a fan of zines,” she says. “I like the punk-DIY way of making and piecing things together, so thought I’d give it a go. They’re super powerful in enabling you to show your voice through print, especially if you’re not a loud or confident person. BOX gives women the chance to speak through the medium of imagery or music.”

The first issue, themed ‘SEX’, was a welcoming, open-minded output that attracted the attention of many expressive women in the city. It’s a no-pressure platform, and Steph’s own personal creative drive informs that attitude. “As a photographer I’m studying the people around me who’re feeding me with ideas, which I feel the need to push out. I know I’m not alone in saying this but if I don’t have an endless list of creative projects to do I get really down,” she confides. “BOX gives me a reason to keep working and feel connected, so I hope it does the same for everyone else.”

BOX’s print format is brought to life by a strong performance element at each launch party. As live music is key to the Bristol’s creative scene, BOX simply reflects that. “I hold the music events as a big party to celebrate the arrival of BOX with everyone that made it possible. As I get music submissions I include them in the tape or CD that comes with the zine. I’ll then ask the acts that submitted to play, along with anyone that contacts me or I feel will suit the event.”

“I liked the idea of holding the launch parties at interesting, creative venues. The Milk Bar was home to a collective of performance artists who were unfortunately being kicked out. They were keen to let me have the BOX launch there as the last event in the building. The outcome was even better than I expected. People were literally trying to squeeze through the door, the bar sold out of booze and all the copies were gone in a flash.”

Join Steph and the BOX family on Friday 11th December for the launch party of Issue Two, held at Bristol Experimental Expanded Film, or BEEF. There’s an exciting line-up of visuals and performances, with music by Tara Clerkin and EBU, Rhain, Klein and AUTO BITCH. This time, the theme is ‘Future’, and Steph, along with her two hosts, artists Isadora Vibes and Joseph Waugh, want their party-goers to dress up accordingly.

BOX is clearly going from strength to strength, and Stephanie is excited about the zine’s future: “I feel that with the help of others BOX will grow into something quite remarkable and recognisable. If I leave Bristol I’d like other women to take over and shape it how they feel is right for them.”

For more information on the launch party or to contribute to future issues, visit the BOX facebook page.

Check out Rhain’s ‘Furniture’ right here: