Student magazines are a right of passage for many, whether you’re a designer honing a visual identity for the first time, an editor curating a line-up of content, or a photographer seeing your work in print. At Leeds Arts University, this has been the case for many students involved in Nest, a publication first started in 2012, now in its 14th issue.
Each year, a new editor is elected by the student body. And this year, for the first time, a duo was voted in with Ollie Meeke and Dan Pipe forming an editorial team. “With such big ideas for Nest, and to push it further than it’s ever been in terms of production, content, reach and partnerships, we knew this was a role bigger than one person,” they tell us.
In the past, Nest has always been an A5-bound zine, but with Ollie and Dan’s vision for elevating the project, the 14th issue is a B5 publication, with an exposed stitch bind and over double the number of pages. In terms of the content itself, they chose to focus on the theme of gender: “We wanted it to be relevant and use this platform for a positive impact. Now seemed the ideal time to involve Nest in the ongoing cultural conversation about gender.”
The pair put a call out to the university, asking for work that suited thematically and “received a wide variety of fantastic creative work”. When curating what to include Ollie and Dan focussed on keeping a balance of disciplines, to show the breadth of work produced at Leeds Arts University, but also to make sure they included a plethora of voices and ideas surrounding gender.
As a result, Nest includes everything from photography to graphic design to writing. Elżbieta Cybulska’s contribution, for example, profiles the female soldiers of Kurdistan in a series that challenges the stereotypes of women in the Middle East. In another photographic story, Anthea Spivey documents Senegalese wrestlers in a series of striking black and white photos.
While these pieces document others’ notions of their own gender, James Gray contributes an extremely personal piece on the matter. Offering a “raw insight into the experience of gender non-conformity”, James pens their experience of self-discovery from a cis-gender male to a queer non-binary individual. An equally intimate piece comes from Alice Marshall, who speaks on the experience of having a transgender sibling.
Ultimately, the range of students included in Nest is a testament to Ollie and Dan’s curatorial instinct. Not only do they speak to the myriad forms in which gender can be experienced, but they hark from various courses including the extended diploma and foundation, as well as various bachelor’s and master’s courses.
The finishing touch on what is a genuinely insightful and compelling publication is the duo’s design direction which feels well beyond that of a student magazine, and more like that of a publication ready to be sold across the UK, in New York and even in Sydney – which it has.
About the Author
Ruby joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in September 2017 after graduating from the Graphic Communication Design course at Central Saint Martins. In April 2018, she became a staff writer and in August 2019, she was made associate editor. Get in contact with Ruby about ideas you may have for long-form stories on the site.