Writing about work: 1. ‘Underground fairylands’

Emma Davidson_Underground Fairylands_2

‘Underground Fairylands’ is my homage to zines. To begin with it was a small, photocopied zine of found text and found images, which I made in 2013.

I discovered zines as a teenager growing up in suburban Sydney in the 1990s; I spent a lot of time daydreaming of other worlds, and was always on the lookout for some portal-like experience that would transport me out of everyday life. I escaped into the world of books, for example, as boldly (and as bodily) as the cartoon character Gumby did when he stepped into a page. When I discovered zines I realised I was not alone in this desire to escape: there was a secret world of people like me, connected by handmade, photocopied, ephemeral objects – zines.

I don’t think childish dreams – the desire to be grown up, to move out, to discover and explore – are lost in adulthood: they can fuel the desire for political projects that open up new possibilities for living. ‘Underground Fairylands’ juxtaposes images and texts which chart, like a rogue story-board*, the ad-hoc, sometimes tentative, processes by which people acquire knowledge – or consciousness – about the world, and their place in it.

This large-scale, wall-piece version of ‘Underground Fairylands’ was made in 2018. I wanted to capture the graphic quality of photocopying, but on a much larger scale than can be achieved with a photocopier, and, in keeping with the analogue nature of zines, without using any digital processes. Solvent transfer is a printing technique which transfers toner from a photocopy onto another surface (cartridge paper, in this case). This piece is composed of approximately fifty individual solvent transfers. It took me about two weeks, working five hours a day, to complete.


*Stole the line ‘rogue story-board’ from Bianca Martin, of Rut zine x


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