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27th February 2020

Art in Mancunia: Dylan James and ‘The A4 Project’

Harry Thorfin talks to Dylan James about the A4 project
Art in Mancunia: Dylan James and ‘The A4 Project’
Photo: Dylan James

The paper and written word share a long, mutually beneficial relationship. Dylan James, a third-year English Literature & American Studies student, has dedicated aptly named The A4 Project to this relationship in its most basic form: one story on one piece of A4 paper.

The concept behind the A4 Project is simple and egalitarian. The aim is to make art accessible to both creators and viewers by taking an everyday object and making it into a vessel for art.

The publication has been in print since September 2019, each month publishing a short story on one side of the paper and a visual work on the other. Both sides tell a story, but it’s up to the reader to interpret how these stories interact- or if they do at all. It is based on submissions sent to [email protected] and is printed via risograph.

Photo credit: Dylan James

Word about the project has spread through reading groups, writers’ Facebook pages, and Dylan has even sought submissions by handing out leaflets in the street. It has clearly worked, as Dylan tells me there’s a “steady stream of submissions.” Limitation often enhances creativity, which is showcased in the range of stories submitted. One week, there’s a sombre piece about a truck driver spotting a former lover at a gas station, the next there’s a mermaid at an awkward job interview.

Dylan acts as curator, editor and distributor. However, The A4 Project is published by Snitch Publishing, a DIY publisher run by Rory Spencer, Eva Gerretsen and Jack Rietnoul. Snitch also publishes Penny Thoughts, based on the same ethos but instead publishes small poems and doodles. These mini-zines can be spotted across Manchester and though small in size, make an important statement: “art should be for everyone, not just for a select few.”

Dylan makes it clear that Snitch, himself and the contributors only make up part of the project. “For the project to fulfil its artistic intentions, the reader must consume the work, for it is they who actualise the narrative potential of these zines.”

Make sure to be on the lookout for these around Manchester. If you spot a loose A4 on the dance floor at White Hotel on March 26th, make sure to grab it and have a read when you get home.

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