Milonga

Caribou Caravan

30 November 11 words: James Walker
An analogue kid trapped in a digital universe celebrates the weird and wonderful world of zines

 

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All photographs by Samantha Gallagher Photography

We’d like to wish a big winter welcome to Annelise Atkinson, an artist and zine maker who runs the Caribou zine shop, currently residing in the utterly gorgeous Hopkinson’s Gallery. In essence, Annelise is an analogue kid trapped in a digital universe with a fetish for anything handmade.  She’s on a mission to return the written word back to its humble DIY beginnings when a photocopier, staple, paper and idea were enough to get across your message. The Caribou Caravan is a much needed antidote to the Facebook generation, placing quality over quantity, and making connections at a more reasonable pace. We like.
 
Who are you then?
I’m an artist and zine maker, and I run the Caribou zine shop. I’ve lived in Notts for about 8 years on and off. I came here for uni in 2003 and studied Decorative Arts at NTU and then left after graduating to live and work in London for a few years, but I found myself magnetising back to Nottingham. I missed the vibe! My favourite places to hang out are The Poacher, Broadway, and anywhere that sells cakes.
 
Where did you get the caravan from?
I got the caravan from a wheeler dealer in Bournemouth on Gumtree, we drove all the way there and back in one day with the help of Ginsters sausage rolls and too many cups of coffee.
 
Why 'Caribou'?
The official reason is because it’s an amalgamation of the words caravan and boutique, but really it’s because I really like reindeer. I lived in Sweden for a term when I was a student, and the word ‘caribou’ sparks off memories of its beautiful landscape and watching the caribou roaming around and having a lovely time in the snow. I guess I see the shop as being something that can roam free, travelling from place to place, also having a lovely time in the snow.
 
You seem to be pretty settled at Hopkinson’s. Please don’t go…
I would love to stay at Hopkinson’s but the idea of the shop is that it is a travelling boutique, and can bring artists’ work to wider audience and spread the good word of zines around the country. So it will eventually up sticks and move, but for the time being Hopkinson’s is a great place to be.
 
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Inside the caravan you'll find a world of wordy delights...
Hopkinson’s has had the most amazing make-over, easily the coolest hangout in Nottingham. What's happened? 
Yes it’s really blossomed into something incredible! It’s been taken over by Liam Woodgates, another NTU graduate who was inspired by Brighton’s Snooper’s Paradise (a large enclosed flea market in The Lanes) and saw the potential of combining artists’ studios with individual boutiques. The gallery is separated into individual spaces for sellers selling vintage clothes, jewellery, records, and antiques as well as handmade arts and crafts and pieces by local artists. Upstairs is a selection of boutiques, there’s Dorothy’s Wardrobe which is a vintage clothing boutique specialising in handpicked vintage ladies’ clothing, 'Love You More' which is textile jewellery & accessories handmade using upcycled salvaged materials, 'Dirty Dove' a jewellery boutique selling handmade old school eighties and classic hip hop inspired jewellery, there's also Norman Hayes and Waste Studio, plus we’ve got INK screenprinting studios launching soon. It’s a great place to work, and it’s got a real community feel to it. We all take shifts working behind the till so each seller has time to go off and make things and run their business without having to be there every day of the week, as quite a few of us have our own online shops too.. 
 
So you’re really going to leave this funky little paradise? 
I have plans to take the caravan to a few festivals next summer, and around arts and crafts markets. What I would really like to do is travel around popping up in towns and villages where there wouldn’t otherwise the opportunity for people to get hold of fanzines and handmade arts and crafts, and bringing a bit of Caribou joy to peoples’ lives. 
 
What’s hidden inside the caravan?
I sell fanzines, books and films by independent makers, ceramics, art prints, handmade jewellery, pop-up books, cassettes, records, and vintage typewriters that I recondition and decorate myself. I’d like to sell more pieces and I’m on the look out for zine makers and artists who want to sell their work.
 
Does that there cup have a moustache on it? 
Of course! The cups are sourced from bric-a-brac shops, car boot sales and the ceramic moustaches are made and fired by me, then glazed and decorated with ceramic high fire transfers. I also have a range where the moustaches are hand-painted on with ceramic paint. They range from £5-£8. 
 
Tell us about the zines…
Zines have been an interest of mine for a long time and were the main impetus to start the shop. I used to contribute to Pete Conway’s I Want To Be a Circle about 5 years ago, and from then started to make my own zine called Flick My Ankle. It wasn’t of anything in particular, it wasn’t really a fanzine in the traditional sense, I did sketches of things I found funny, but the important thing to me was that I could do something that other people would read that might make them laugh, and that they would enjoy. 
 
And Ultra Horse…
When I came back to Nottingham after my time in London I met Dan England and formed Ultra Horse, a zine conglomerate. From then on started to get really into the scene. We used to sit at our desks at work trying to subtly draw comic strips whilst pretending to do actual work, and spend evenings cutting and pasting and stapling until we had a batch ready. We applied to have stalls at every zine fair we could find and travelled round the country with boxes of zines and stickers and prints we had made going to these fairs and selling our wares. We also set up an online blog and shop and started selling zines to people that way, and gradually built it up. I saw so many amazing zines that others had made that you wouldn’t be able to get hold of unless you went to the zine fairs. So I got in touch with other zine makers and told them what I was doing and they started sending their zines in for me to sell in the shop.
 
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Kosho Kosho. Who needs a Kindle!

One of the zines offers hope for us out there without an iPhone… 
One of my favourites is Kosho Kosho a Japanese cut and paste DIY zine, done by a girl whose imagination brings inanimate objects to life in her zine. This zine is so great because you can cut out and make your own paper iPhone and mini snowpeaked mountains or smiley-faced tables! I don’t have an iPhone so I just like to cover up my actual phone with the paper iPhone so that people think I’m richer than I am. It’s part of a collection published by ‘Editions du Livres’ in France. 
 
How was it for You?
You is a legendary Australian zine from The Sticky Institute in Melbourne which comes in the form of an anonymous letter addressed to ‘you’. Various writers from all over the world write handwritten letters which are then sealed in a paper bag with the words YOU stamped on the front. It has been appearing in zine shops, art spaces and record shops for about ten years and the great thing about it is that it’s free. YOU has been compiled into an anthology and even a DVD about the making of an issue, which I also have in stock.
 
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I like going to the cinema... but I prefer going to the Caribou

What about something more local?
One of my all time favourites is I Like Going to the Cinema by a local zine maker. In the zine is photocopies of a decade’s worth of saved ticket stubs from all over the world (but mainly in Nottingham) accompanied by a little review / story connecting the films to memories of the time – some sad, some happy, but all heart-warming. I have had people welling up when reading this at zine fairs. Here’s an excerpt.
 
“I saw Kill Bill: 1 with a girl.
I saw Kill Bill: 2 with the same girl.
She was something special.”
 
Do you stock particular themed zines?
They come from all over the world; people have sent zines in from Australia, Japan, France, and America, Egypt, as well as lots of local and English zine makers such as Manchester’s OWT Creative and Zeene from Loughborough. They vary in theme, there are fanzines for music and gig reviews, free zines about punk and hardcore, cookery zines, a zine entirely dedicated to Eastenders, perzines (personal zines) about people’s personal experiences and lives, photography zines… many subjects. 
 
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ET phone Hopkinson's

Basically you’re an analogue kid stuck in a digital universe. Do you see a resurgence in zines?
I think the resurgence has already begun, although for us they never really left. They have definitely become more popular in recent years; zine fairs and symposiums have started popping up all over the country, and this year we had our first zine fair in Nottingham put on by Raw Print. I think anything that’s low-fi crafts or DIY related is only going to carry on growing as people develop an affection towards the handmade object, I guess as a reaction to the digital age.
 
What kind of people come to your caravan?
All sort of people come in, from people dropping in to rifle through the mix tapes to people passing through on the way to the train station, there is a wide variety of people who come into the caravan, but it’s always good to see people come in especially for the zines.
 
You can find the Caribou Caravan at Hopkinson’s Gallery, 21 Station Street, Nottingham
NG2 3AJ
There will be a zine fair held by Raw Print Club at 3 December, 12-6pm at the Orange Tree
 
 

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