Manchester quarterly The Modernist has been celebrating all aspects of Modernism for a strong run of 26 issues. Today we catch up with editors Eddy Rhead and Jack Hale and look at their week ahead, which includes the launch of their 27th issue at our latest MagCulture Meets night.
Where are you today?
EDDY: In Modernist HQ – which is in a very old Manchester mill – not very modern but was on the cutting edge back in the 1830s when it was built. Just had an exciting meeting about another project that may or may not come off. No two days are the same. Always something new on the horizon.
JACK: Our office is full of designers, artists and other interesting people. There aren’t many places like this left in the centre of Manchester. It’s convenient, cheap and very friendly.
Tell us about your typical Monday journey to work
EDDY: We’re both volunteers, and fit running The Modernist Society and The Modernist magazine in around our ‘normal’ lives. I don’t normally come in on a Monday, unless we are very busy.
I try and ride my bike (for pleasure) on Mondays, but if I do have to come in I’ll cycle in as I do the rest of the week. I’m mainly trying not to get killed by drivers on my journey so coffee, music or a book are ill advised.
JACK: I work at my other job on Mondays, (the job that actually pays me). I walk to work, crossing the river Irwell, past some new goslings, through Hulme Park and I’m there.
Describe the state of your desk and what you can see in your office
EDDY: My desk has a very slow laptop, a rarely used printer, a heavily used address label printer (99% of our sales are online) and an equally heavily used franking machine. I face a wall because the windows in our Dickensian workhouse style building are tiny and opaque. Me and Jack are like the Oliver Twist and Artful Dodger of magazine publishing.
JACK: My desk is so full of rubbish, I have abandoned it and now work on the central table. Surrounded by magazines, badges, tote bags and other stuff ready to be posted out to customers, and never too far from my Braun calculator.
Which magazine do you first remember?
EDDY: Probably Record Mirror – in the early eighties when I was a teenager it was a pop magazine, but it had a section dedicated to dance music which I was pretty into (as much as teenage boys could be into US club music). I think I may still have a pile in my mum’s basement…
JACK: I remember us having The Observer Magazine on a Sunday, it was probably the glory days of the Sunday supplements in the seventies… and surprisingly posh, seeing as for the rest of the week we had the Daily Mirror.
Which magazine matters to you the most right now?
EDDY: I’ll be honest, I don’t really concentrate too much on what’s happening with magazines. I’m not a magazine nut. I subscribe to the British Journal of Photography – which is beautifully produced and always inspiring. And, ProCycling – because I like looking at pictures of bikes and bike racing. I don’t really absorb many magazines out there I’m afraid.
JACK: I regularly read Aesthetica, it’s a good mix of art, fashion and photography without being a heavy read (lots of nice pictures). And, Monocle I like the international focus and the indie businesses it features.
The Habitat issue
Can you describe your magazine in three words?
EDDY: Paper. Staples. Ink
JACK: Hand bag sized.
Modernist architecture has developed a bad reputation since the idealism of the fifties and sixties. Do you believe it still has a a future or does the mag exist to celebrate the past?
Eddy: It only developed a bad reputation in certain circles and as a movement it never died. I personally really like (good) contemporary architecture and we have now passed through Post-modernism and Modernism is once again thriving. There are countless excellent publications which focus on contemporary architecture so we’ll leave that to them. Besides, only a small part of The Modernist concentrates on architecture, we are equally interested in all aspects of Modernism.
JACK: Most contemporary architecture has thoroughly Modernist DNA. Much of what was new during the Modernist era has simply become the norm. Modernism lives.
The Health issue
Each issue of the mag is themed; how do you choose these themes? Do you worry you’ll run out of relevent Modernist themes?
EDDY: We sit down once a year and have to think of four themes starting with the next letter in the alphabet. The alphabet thing has been a blessing and a curse. It concentrates the mind and gives us a framework to work in in what is otherwise quite a loosely focused magazine.
JACK: We started with B and we are now up to H. I’ll be 71 by the time we reach the end of the alphabet. Then it will be time to pass on the baton and start all over again.
What is your favourite modernist building, and why?
EDDY: The French Communist Party HQ in Paris by Oscar Niemeyer. I haven’t actually ever seen this building in the flesh but Niemeyer is God amongst men (in my opinion) and I wished I could have picked 10 of his buildings this one is probably the one that ticks all my boxes.
JACK: That’s a hard one. I really enjoyed the Louisiana Art Gallery in Copenhagen, a lovely scandi modern gallery, by the sea, looking over to Sweden (and that bridge).
What are you worrying about at work this week?
EDDY: That the magazine will be back from the printers before the launch at MagCulture!
JACK: That we haven’t even started in the next issue.
The High issue
What’s going to be the highlight of the week for you?
EDDY: Sending the latest issue of The Modernist – High – off to the printers. A blessed relief and the anticipation of it coming back is always exciting.
JACK: We’ve been working with the Twentieth Century Society to fundraise and raise a plaque on the house of sculptor Mitzi Cunliffe. She was an American who lived in Manchester and made a lot of public art in the fiftiess and sixties. She is most famous for designing the BAFTA trophy. This Saturday the plaque will be unveiled.
What will you be doing after this chat?
EDDY: We are in the middle of a heatwave here in Manchester so I’ll probably go home to sit in my pants with an ice pop.
JACK: I’ve been working on a funding bid off and on for over a year. Today, I’m going to press the send button.
Join Jack and Eddy, along with designer Jonathan Hitchen, for magCulture Meets The Modernist, Thursday 5 July at the magCulture Shop, London.