“…the kind of openness of which only the very wise and the very generous are capable.”
Andrew Forge (on the work of Albert Irvin, 1989)
To lay my cards on the table, I am an old punk rocker. Raised in the febrile and angry atmosphere of the 1970s, I came to Newport in the late ‘80s and instantly found a new ‘family’ at TJ’s in Clarence Place. This famous venue was packed almost every night with a shifting community of restless, disruptive and highly talented people. Punk rock and its anarchic sensibility had fostered a rebellious and creative mentality in many of us and - whether musician, designer, photographer, performer or writer - we all found a home of sorts at John and Trilby’s, together with a rich mix of collaborative opportunities around the DJ booth and at the bar.
So what does all this have to do with my membership of the warm and wonderful ILK that is gradually coalescing around Alex, David and the rest of the KIN+ILK family? Fast forward to 2017 and my gainful employment as an academic at the University of South Wales (how on earth did that happen!?). While having settled down considerably since the TJ’s era, I’ve found that the residue of punk and riot grrrl still manifests itself in a refusal to be fettered by the limitations of convention. The cut-and-paste, DIY aesthetic of the late ‘70s with its collision of improbable constituent parts translates as my modus operandi - a love of connecting people, words, images, businesses and disciplines in often surprising contexts. The results can be a revelation - and, in the process, I’ve found a new ‘family’ and a new home in KIN+ILK Capital Quarter.
I’ve written elsewhere on the KIN+ILK blog about the sense of shared values and generosity of spirit that characterise the KIN+ILK philosophy. The quotation at the top of this piece also encapsulates the honesty of both Alex and David in terms of their approach to mental health issues. However, the words which speak most clearly to me of their beliefs as well as their work are “love in action”. Whether it be fundraising for homeless charity The Wallich, welcoming new first-year Photography students with an inspirational live brief, or simply serving a perfect lime and ginger rooibos tea, there is a joy about the KIN+ILK owners and staff that cannot be found anywhere else. Their warmth and friendliness, together with plenty of freshly-brewed coffee and great music, make KIN+ILK the ideal place for meetings, project planning and creative thinking generally. I feel absolutely at home here; and, if you hear anyone singing along to Annabella Lwin as she belts out “I want candy”, it’s probably me!
Photo by Aaron Lowe