Left Cultures #2
The first question facing our latest Magazine of the Month was, ‘is it a magazine?’ Taking our simplest description of the form—a serial publication—then yes, Left Cultures fits the bill perfectly.
First published last year as a one-off, Left Cultures set out to give a platform to voices from the left, inviting contemporary cultural creators to write about an iconic person or event of the left, and share the text alongside a commissioned illustration. The result was a powerful collection of stories and rich artworks, dominated by the historical.
When we described that first issue on our Shop site, Danielle signed off with the question, ‘Perhaps, in forthcoming issues, there’ll also be space to explore a completely new leftist vision…’ Which brings us nicely to this second issue and its more contemporary series of stories.
The format remains the same, a series of spreads with text on the left and artwork on the right. 52 contributing writers come from far and wide and the stories they share range from the personal to the polemical. Creative strategist Kelly Bewers explains how musician Patti Smith’s punk attitude inspired her; artist/designer Scott King recalls his less inspirational experience of a friend’s disco in support of CND; and campaigner Melissa Benn tells the story of digital guerillas Led by Donkeys.
The written stories all have different starting points and tones, but it’s the series of illustrations accompanying them that makes Left Cultures stand out. No surprise, perhaps, given the person in charge is Phil Wriggleworth, practicing illustrator and longtime teacher of the craft (and co-founder of illustrated movie mag Benefical Shock). The clean, simple text design allows the illustrations (and occasional phtograph) to dominate, and toegther they build into a catalogue of contemporary work. The texts and images reflect each other and add up to more than the sum of their parts, in that wonderful way magazine spreads can do.
The bigger story holding the whole project together, though, is highlighted in Wriggleworth’s opening letter. He reminds us of the political motive behind the publication. His magazine’s a powerful reminder that there is a left point of view still available, even if it is so often ignored, marginalised, or worse, demonised in today’s media. It’s refreshing to see these views collected together and rendered relevant and vital as ever.
Editorial and creative direction Phil Wrigglesworth
Editorial direction Colum Leith
Graphic design Marco Ugolini