Introducing Plates of Meat, the magazine that’s “perpetually working itself out”

The magazine’s founder, Silva Cunningham, explains how the publication fights against barriers in the creative industry, like widespread inaccessibility and the obsession with fame.

Date
17 August 2022

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This article is published as part of Us vs Them, a guest edit of It’s Nice That commissioned and curated by creative director Richard Turley. To read further articles from Richard’s takeover head here.

“I’ve always loved random tat”, begins Plates of Meat founder Silva Cunningham. “Bits of paper with used shopping lists on them” or “someone’s personal photographs from their trip to the Disney cruise in 2007”, such random items and ephemera are for Silva a truthful depiction of “human-ness”. It’s perhaps this essence of humanity that the magazine – that Silva started at just 20 years old – most strives to replicate and represent. With its eclectic, DIY aesthetic and approach, Plates of Meat offers an honest, bold and unashamed insight into how the next generation of young creatives are thinking, living and working today.

Much like the magazine she has created, Silva is unrelentingly honest, refusing to shy away from uncomfortable truths and memories. “At 16 I was chronically lonely – isn’t everyone?”, she says. Trying to find a truthful sense of self, Silva would often tell lies about useless things. “I kept telling everyone that I was once the personal assistant to Mr Tumble. I wasn’t,” she reminisces. The one thing that made Silva feel a little safer and a little less lonely, however, was ripping up magazines and collaging her school folders. In her youth, she also found herself obsessed with old Playboy magazines, and i-D, her mum having worked for them in her 20s. “Looking through an old issue of i-D felt like a world that I wanted to be part of, a world that I felt a little bit in tune with,” she says. “All I really wanted was to feel included. So to me, Plates of Meat is a publication that does its best to make clear that everyone’s invited.”

GalleryPlates of Meat (Copyright © Silva Cunningham, 2022)

This core ethos of inclusivity is formed in direct contention to the idea of “fame”. “I feel as though a lot of young people today are constantly reminded of their ‘fame’ or lack of,” she details. “I grew up in the age of the ‘internet celebrity’ and I think the accessibility to fame in my generation has given rise to this idea that ‘if you’re not someone by yesterday you’re no one.” This, combined with the issue of the creative industry being so inaccessible and exclusive, Silva sees as warding many away from creative expression – “I think it can often be quite difficult for a lot of people to feel like they’re allowed to call themselves ‘creative’.” And so, the ideal contributor to the magazine Silva simply defines as someone who makes things that they “truly love”. Whether you collect taxidermy beetles or collage pictures from 70s dingy pornos, Silva wants to hear your story.

Summarising the magazine’s progression, Silva says that it always in a process of “perpetually working itself out” and she often simply takes a “lick your finger and put it to the wind” approach. Though, she would love to expand her remit outside of the UK and reach more artists globally, and perhaps even travel with the magazine. “I’m not totally sure of the next move, any direction is looking terrifying and new, but exciting all the same” Silva wraps up. “Just like growing up.”

GalleryPlates of Meat (Copyright © Silva Cunningham, 2022)

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Plates of Meat (Copyright © Silva Cunningham, 2022)

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About the Author

Olivia Hingley

Olivia joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in November 2021 and soon became staff writer. A graduate of the University of Edinburgh with a degree in English literature and history, she’s particularly interested in photography, publications and type design.

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