12th Jul 2018
Pleasure to shake hands with you via the postal service, conch.fyi. And hey, thanks for the tea! While the tea you gave me is called ‘Lazy Summer Afternoon’, it has only just turned Spring here in London, so I will enjoy todays overcast Spring weather as I write this and sip to thoughts of summers past.
I’m Allisa. I’m a baker, but I also draw, take photos and make a newspaper called Chib. I enjoy food, reading, music, games, fashion, walks, conservation and sustainability.
Chib began as a project I started in late 2016 whilst living in Glasgow. I had this idea for a gig guide, which then sprouted in to an event based calendar highlighting free and cheap community based events, spanning performance, visual art, film, festivals and community events. I needed a way to engage with Glasgow, creatively speaking, and working with print seemed to come the most naturally to me at the time. Over time it morphed in to a printed space where local and international emerging artists, writers and creatives could find a home for their projects and ideas, or share something completely new. Whether it be a game, a seasonal recipe, paintings, or a story or thought they’d like to give life to. Chib became a space for anyone and everything, where there are no boundaries so long as everything remains respectful and inclusive, and most importantly, fun. Since March 2017, we’ve created three issues (we, now being myself and my pal Charlotte Taylor), and I’m hoping it continues on … but in a new form. I’ve hit a few speed bumps since the beginning of the year and I’ve just accepted a new job, so things might get quiet until I figure things out.
The name came from a lovely Glaswegian florist at Roots and Fruits named Andrea. We were sat on a stack of pallets in the basement when I explained my idea for this weird alternative newspaper, and after explaining my very early ideas of it, she suggested Chib. Chib is a Glaswegian slang word for a shiv, where an ordinary everyday object, let’s say a newspaper, gets turned into a weapon, for example rolling up a newspaper and hitting someone with it or killing a bug etc. I liked Chib to be as such. A no fuss, no rules printed piece which you can tear up, write in, draw in, smack someone over the head with it, all crushed on a few sheets of paper. And hey, have it for free.
My experience is more of an outsiders one. I went to openings, I saw lots of live music, attended performances, but I felt more like a fan girl of the city and of my friends who were making work than anything else. Chib became a way for me to get involved in a way I felt that I could. I got to ask people who I admired to submit things, and then edit them in a way that I thought would highlight their talent. It’s good fun! And it has introduced me to many other wonderful artists and makers in the city. Honestly, I’m not trying to take myself, or Chib too seriously. I want to create something good, but I’m okay with it not being quite perfect. Glasgow is a great place to make art in, the people are a laugh and the ale and housing are cheap. Honestly, if it wasn’t for the rain, I’d live there forever!
I enjoy anything by poet and novelist, Richard Brautigan. His humour and attention to the detail of everyday human life and relationships are brilliant and thoughtful. Anytime I pass a bookstore I look for a copy of ‘The Pill Versus the Springhill Mine Disaster’, but it never stays on the shelves long enough for me to find it. My Auntie has a copy at her cabin in Coleman, Alberta, and I read it cover to cover every time I’m there. It’s one of my favourite pieces of writing, close second is ‘Still Life with Woodpecker’. And if I could have someone to enjoy this delicious tea with, it would be Richard. Tom Robbins, Kurt Vonnegut and Haruki Murakami could also come along if our schedules match.
Errrrrr, about that, so I’ve been like, really busy, like, SO busy. Yah know? I’ve been baking bread and cakes and biscuits, and moved to a new city. I think the last thing I made was an oil pastel drawing of some geranium flowers, its been bleak. But I’ve been writing a lot and trying to walk, run, stretch and meditate more. Chib is on a wee bit of a hiatus since November, but there are plans to create something over the summer when Charlotte comes south. I’m enjoying creation through food at the moment, and working with dough (sometimes it makes me feel like a ceramicist) and devising plans of another publication similar to Chib, which won’t be focused to one specific city. Do you have any ideas?
It plays a role in my everyday life, but not so much in my creative practice. Yes. Chib is about collaboration first and foremost, but most of the work I do is alone. I really enjoy my solitude to explore thoughts, make messes and then clean them up in the privacy of my own company. If I’m asking you for advice about something that I’ve done, it probably means that I trust you and your opinions. I think I doubt my abilities, which forces me to work alone most of the time, fearing that maybe I don’t measure up. It’s silly, but I don’t think I’m entirely alone on this one. But, I’m working on it.
Ah! My friends inspire me most I think! Stephane Hier’s paintings are some of my favourites (check out her solo show at David Dale in June), and Beth Jeans Houghton – or Du Blonde – is an inspiring and hardworking artist to work/live along side. Also, Margot Henderson, because she is such an inspiring woman in the food industry and who knows how to throw a beautifully wild party. I also enjoy watching Darby Milbraths paintings evolve with time, and James Findlay (or @perfect.girlfriend) makes me laugh. People who I admire from afar are Joni Mitchell, Ru Paul, Kendrick Lamar and Yoko Ono.
I would want to open my own space and feed people and give them room to create in a peaceful and supportive environment. I want to combine collaboration and conversation around food, in hopes that these moments will inspire creativity and hopefully collaborations. I’d get the best equipment and buy the freshest and most organic food available, and ideally set up my own garden with chickens and cows. Over the last four years I’ve lived quite nomadically, jumping from house to house, and city to city, so I’m trying to decide where I want to settle first and go from there. I’m from Canada, so I imagine either back in Toronto, or West coast towards Vancouver … but undecided. Though, every time I’m out in a new part of London I fall more and more in love with it, so I think I’ll stay here awhile.
Allisa Murphy-McFarlen is a baker, maker and photo taker based in London. Chib is an independent publication based in Glasgow and London. You can find her on instagram at @ccchhhiiibbb