In Conversation: ROOT-ed / Elizabeth Challinor

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ROOT-ed (Revolution Of Our Time) is a self-published zine and social platform, that aims to promote, support, represent and inspire creative people of colour within the North West of England. ROOT-ed has decided to dedicate their page to Joy. In these particular circumstances, it’s important to look at the positive aspect in life and try to highlight what brings us Joy. ROOT-ed has commissioned four emerging writers from Writing on the Wall to participate and share their views on Joy through poetry.

You can check out their ongoing IB21 work here – 

https://independentsbiennial.com/artists/root-ed/

Contact Details:

@rootedzine (instagram), @ROOTedZine (Twitter), https://www.rootedzine.co.uk/, rootedzine@gmail.com 

How did you initially get involved with IB21?

Patrick reached out to us to see if we’d like to get involved in the IB21- we said yes as it seemed like a great way to contribute something to the festival that has been created by PoC creatives who are currently based in Liverpool.

Are you working towards anything specific during the independents Biennial/what are you looking to achieve or aim to during the festival?

Generally our aim is for open discussion about the topic we have explored – Joy. During these times of going through a pandemic, the topic of Joy seems to be something that is worthwhile talking about. Equally, we’re really interested in hearing everyone’s own interpretation of what brings them joy, too.

What kind of work does Root-Ed usually do? How has your project for IB21 grew out of this?

ROOT-ed usually works with PoC artists who are from or based within the NW of England. We work with lots of different mediums and artists. Usually the medium we work with the most is literature, and we utilised those skills to get in touch with some talented writers that we were previously working with. We asked for their contribution to the project of Joy, and shortly after we were able to get them into the magazine, which is wonderful news.

Did you have plans for your work (& to present it physically) before the festival was moved online? Has the change in platform affected your outcomes in any way?

No, the festival hasn’t changed much – I assume if it wasn’t online we would do an event within a gallery space and probably explore Joy through open dialogue and making art, almost in a cathartic way. But since it’s online it does have some benefits – I assume more people will be able to discuss the conversation as the papers have been allocated throughout Liverpool, as opposed to having a select number attend the workshop.

How did you go about choosing your commissioned writers? What was your selection process like?

Our selection process was fairly simple – we were already working with talented writers, who are all PoC and based in Liverpool, some of whom have not been published within the years of writing. We thought this would be a great opportunity for them to see their work published, and also to share more knowledge about the publishing and editing process. It was equally about getting their writing out there, commissioning them, and also introducing them of how to work with editors.

What’s it like (or been like so far) working with the Independents Biennial? Do you get much support from the organisation? 

It’s been great – we’ve had sufficient support at the start of the programme, but since the publication of the project it’s slowed down at the moment, which is understandable.

How come you decided to focus on Joy? What does joy mean to you?

Joy is truly interpreted differently from person to person – sometimes people only feel Joy when something large or significant happens – and other times people feel joy in regards to simpler, more everyday occurrences. Both versions of joy are valid, and since the world has suffered immensely during this pandemic and everything onto – looking for things that bring us joy may aid us emotionally in our everyday lives. However, to feel joy sometimes is a privilege, so we take this into account, too. Joy to us means that people are content with their artwork or writing. This is because sometimes creativity is fleeting for some and constant for others – but if it brings happiness in any aspect, we’re all for it.

How have people been reacting to your Joy project? Have you been getting much feedback about it? 

In regards to the Joy project we did post it on our social media and the reaction was great. People were really impressed by the writers and how they interpreted joy. For example, one person said ‘Lovely poem, and nice to reminder to appreciate life! Helps uplift my day.’ 

Have you’s had many others share their own interpretations of joy with you?

Not in particular – but we aim to send out submissions through a newsletter in the near future in order to get those in so we can archive them or invite an artist to interpret the words too. 

Would you ever try and do an event revolving around joy, once all the restrictions are lifted? Or do you think you’ll just move on from this once the biennial has finished? 

Yes absolutely – we’d love to have a drop in session where people can make art, take and socialise. It would amazing too if we were able to host our zine launch parties too – this always bought in people from all over to share life experiences and network.

Is there a reason why you tend to work more with literature? Do either of you have much of an experience or background in this area? 

It generally just the highest quantity of submissions that we receive – we both have degrees in fine art which does include looking through a lot of literature and also in regards to curating, too, we have to do a lot of research on the artist. Other than that, we try to balance our submissions with lots of varieties of art mediums.

What’s been your general experience of being involved with IB21? Like has it enabled you to learn anything or develop any new skills? Or is it more of a continuation of your existing work?

It feels like a more of a continuation however, I feel working for IB21 has helped our writers reach new people and have an audience that they perhaps didn’t have beforehand, so it seems to be beneficial for them.

Obviously you both work on ROOT-ed together, but do you enjoy collaborating and working together? (I always wonder this about people working together, because sometimes collabs can be completely unintentional or quite forced, so I’m always really interested to see how people feel about how they work with others) 

We were friends from university and we balance our work by drawing on each others strengths in order to get work done the most efficient way possible. We do enjoy working together as we depend on each other a lot when things arise within our personal or professional life. We always have an agreement to put our health first in front of anything, so if that’s not up to scratch, we will work on it at our own pace. We can’t stress enough that overworking and stressing is not the place to be if you can avoid it. Health comes first, always!

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