Arts section contributor
Cutting her teeth designing posters in the DIY Punk scene and playing in a multitude of ‘just ok’ bands, Sara is a Freelance Illustrator and Graphic Designer living in Norwich. Graduated from Norwich University of the Arts with a degree in Illustration. She plays trumpet in the ska punk band ‘Faintest Idea’ who she regularly tours with alongside running ‘Bee Friendly’ workshops throughout the year. Staunchly pro-dog, particularly the crusty kinds. You can find Sara on Instagram and Twitter.
(05.03.18) – Who Gives a Hoot? The Closure of the Owl Sanctuary
As The Owl looks set to close once more, I took a look at the history of the iconic venue and where its closure would leave the Norwich DIY scene.
The chaos and hubbub spill out to the quiet back streets of that historic mound by the castle. Red paint, skate decks and Antifa flags adorn the walls, and a rotating crowd of faces mill around the bar inside. The air is joyous and muskily sweet with the smell of human sweat, stained beer and crust punk looming miasmic and familiar. In some way or another, I know everyone in this room.
An acoustic bar cuts the silence as a rowdy ‘1, 2, 3, 4’ heralds in the full band and an anthemic pop punk belter: the start of something new for punks of the folk persuasion; Jake & The Jellyfish – Long In Winters. Released 26 January 2018 with a gloriously green vinyl available on Invisible Llama Music, this album sees an evolution of sound from this newly re-outfitted 5 piece (sometimes 6), as 2 new members, Derek and Omar, grace the line up. The album revels in raucous, melodic sing-alongs which you can’t help but join in with, even though you don’t know the words yet. But trust me, you will.
(08.01.18) – The Resolve to do Better
The chime of another year done; the fireworks and sloppy kisses, children hiding under tables amongst the tinsel, and Tesco party food ‘3-for-2’ deals. Arms fold and clasp as the initial verses of Auld Lang Syne are mumbled (bravado kicking in only during the choruses). Between those arms lay the best laid plans that the New Year brings with it – the promise that finally we can be the best version of ourselves. Final Year Lists clog up every media outlet and newsfeed, the staccato confetti that bursts out between Yoga Pants ads and Gym Membership deals. They diligently list the authors’ favourite things during the year past, whether it be music releases, comic books, or hair products. These lists give the reader some advice and allow the author a sense of closure on the year and affirmation that the time passed was not futile – something was gained.
(11.12.17) – Art: Where is the Men’s Range?
(13.11.17) – Freelance Struggles: Adventures in the 9 to 5
“Great, welcome to the team”
A decisive hand offers a qualified handshake as I go to leave. It’s brisk and practiced, a clear powerplay perceptive to all those who encounter its efficient grip. Escorted down the stairwell and out of the premises, the automatic doors swish shut, the carefully constructed professional demeanour and gentile phrases I cultivated for the occasion are left behind. I’d got it.
(16.10.17) – Freelance Struggles: #Sinktober
Along with its cooler weather, cosy knit-threads and overpriced pumpkin-flavoured beverages, October’s changing of the seasons includes the the seeing in of ‘Inktober’ for online artists. The worldwide challenge originated with the artist Jake Parker, who wanted to improve his inking skills and set himself the challenge of creating a new, fully inked drawing everyday for a month. The initiative has been incredibly successful on Instagram, where users share and support other artists and encourage each other to keep up with the challenge.
(18.09.17) – Freelance Struggles: Illustrator, 6 Months In
This series aims to vocalise and explore the realities of working as a creative freelancer in a world of ‘9-5ers’. By collating a diverse array of stories from a variety of creative professionals, I hope to contextualise the working art world and give space to discuss what it really means to become your own boss.
The crisp air shocks my puffy, tired face into some form of waking existence. The dog lead wrapped twice around my arm tugs and tugs – the tiny tyrant at the end insistent on getting personal with some arbitrary, malodorous gatepost. Ignoring the hunger gnawing in the pit of my stomach, I trudge on, disgruntled dog in tow. During this morning ritual my brain races as it thinks of self-made deadlines, promotional schemes to send to art directors, and commissions I want to apply for. Each thought tugs and tugs until no answer is arrived at. With no definite plan of how to approach my working day I walk on, still in my pyjamas. My partner left for work ten minutes ago, climbing into their calamitous car and cajoling themselves into the forty-five minute commute to their day job. I am already at work.
(25.08.17) – Talking Community Spaces: The Owl Sanctuary, Norwich
Hidden amongst the quaint gastro-pubs and perfumed pamper boutiques of Timberhill, the beating heart of Norwich’s DIY punk scene lies low in an unassuming alleyway. Those unaware of its whereabouts may accidentally miss its entrance, were it not for the the unmistakeable presence of punk kids lugging gear through the doors every evening. The Owl Sanctuary in Norwich is acclaimed in the DIY punk scene, having already been established from the ashes of many previous venues and playing host to a deluge of touring bands and artists from all over the UK and beyond. It recently found fame for the collective action taken after the landlord of its previous venue (near Castle Mall) evicted the owners. A widespread social media campaign and even the involvement of Norwich South MP Clive Lewis led to the venue being named a ‘community asset’, and re-locating to its current site.
(24.07.17) – MTM: Stoj Snak Interview with Neils Sorenson
Part of a series exploring great music from the DIY music scene that you may have missed.
Hi Niels, thanks so much for letting me bother you with lots of questions! How are you doing today?
No worries. My pleasure. I’m pretty good today – currently in an airport, waiting for a plane to Copenhagen where I’m going to visit an old friend and see a Guns ‘n’ Roses show. Ten year old me is stoked.
So, I’m pretty late to the game and only just stumbled across you and your musical endeavours – Can you tell me a bit about ‘Stöj Snak’ and how it started and who is involved?
Stöj Snak is a ScreamerSongwriter band from Denmark. I started Stöj Snak as an acoustic solo act around 4 years ago – basically just me recording songs in my apartment as a hobby project. It was never meant for anyone to hear.
Since then the band has grown to a four piece with drums, washboard, upright bass and other trash instruments but the attitude towards the music is still very much the same – we do everything ourselves and because it’s fun. It’s basically the antithesis to Guns ‘n’ Roses.
(26.06.17) – Make Punk Venues Period Accessible
CW: graphic imagery, menstruation
Wads of tissue swaddle the gushed gusset of my soon to be late underwear. DIY panty-lining for a DIY punk show. Tissue becomes currency as it is discovered that none of the loos in the entire venue have any – my stash acquired from the Wetherspoons further down the road. No cubicle provides the menstrual cup removing privacy of an old fashioned door. Instead, makeshift curtains swathe the space between yourself and a sorry stranger as the feat of dealing with your period in a space that assumes you do not have one trickles down your hand in all its bloody glory.
Do not have your period at a punk gig.
(12.06.17) – The Conquering of No Man’s Land: Wonder Woman
A bolshy child running through a busy village, a nanny calls after her. Racing, they pass people conducting business, chatting, carrying linen, selling wares. The responsible guardian calls after the child carrying chaos in their wake; futile exclamations for them to stop and return to their studies. Refusing they rush rambunctiously, weaving in between villagers; who take notice. We take notice.
This scene is composed of women. Upon arrival at their apparent destination the child lashes fists and feet in the air, an indignant display of fighting. Determined to take part, the camera pans to show us the source of the excitement. Women warriors wrangle tacitly dropped shields from atop horses, all spin kicks and slaying swords that clash furiously, deadly blows dealt with gravity defying deft and ridiculous displays of battle prowess in all its slow motion glory. Child Wonder Woman is awash with awe and envy as we, the audience process our thoughts.
This is so fucking cool.
(29.05.17) – Blood, Sweat, and Fears – Efficient Packing for Tour
CW: In-depth descriptions of experiences of the menstrual cycle.
Writer’s note: For further reading I highly recommend this article by Allison Crutchfield of ‘Waxahatchee’ and ‘PS Eliot’ fame – reading it helped dispel my fears that being a woman in a band and having different needs are totally legit.
How To Pack For Tour:
Bring knickers for at least every day, have spares just in case of period mishaps. Outfits need to be nice but functional for sweating through on stage. Nothing too girly, you don’t want to draw attention to yourself. Socks – same rule as the knickers, no spares. Have pyjama bottoms, you cannot sleep in pants, it’s too weird for girls to do. De-pot all your toiletries so as to not take up too much space in your bag. Do not take up too much space. Face wash, toner, moisturiser, deodorant bar, tiny shower gel, toothpaste, dry shampoo. Do not be high maintenance. A flannel is needed for the face wash – it cannot be taken off with anything else and face wipes break you out. Flannels will get wet so hang these on a DIY clothes line erected in the van. Bring the pill.
(15.05.17) – Don’t Fucking Touch Me – The Apology
CW: verbal and sexual assault
A series exploring women and genderqueer identities within the DIY Punk and Arts scenes. In this installment Sara Harrington depicts scenes from her own experience playing in a touring ska punk band.
(01.05.17) – Crafting for the Revolution
Recently, I was asked to host a workshop for branch of the Norwich division of the Women’s Institute, ‘The Golden Triangle Girls’. Expecting jam, Jerusalem and jingoism, I was impressed by the diverse array of women that listened intently as I bumbled my way through a workshop about ‘Bee Friendly’ practices.
The group of women who swarmed around tables of craft materials and collected household items were varying in age, occupation and class. But most notably, these women were engaged in the activity. To some extent I had an inkling that the women I would meet at this monthly event would not be the conservative face that over 100 years of country fêtes and the 2003 blockbuster hit that was Calendar Girls had led me to believe. However, I did not realise just how radical a space the WI really was until I attended a meeting for myself.
(17.04.17) – Don’t Fucking Touch Me
CW: verbal and sexual assault
Part of a series exploring women and genderqueer identities within the DIY Punk and Arts scenes. In this installment, Sara Harrington depicts scenes from her own experience playing in a touring ska punk band.
Trumpet case in hand, I try to enter the venue as my bandmates breeze on by.
‘I’m playing actually.’
This is uttered with an embarrassed air, the knock to my ego glances across my face. Fair enough, I’ve not been in the band long.
‘Oh, who are you with? There’s no guest list.’
‘Sorry, I play trumpet in the band.’
Lifting my trumpet case, I point at it awkwardly. A nod as it’s decided that I pass all requirements necessary to gain free entry to a show I’m playing. I go to join my bandmates as we pile our gear into the backroom and start setting up for sound check.