The Lavender Room is a new outlet for Brisbane based artist Pascalle Burton and as of this Sunday, it is open for business and brimming with Zines, upcycled jewellery and other treasures. So to celebrate, I had a chat to Pascalle about what makes The Lavender Room tick.
The Lavender Room Zine issue #1 is now packed up in individual matchboxes and ready to hit the streets… so what can we expect to find when we slide back the cover?
I first notice people’s faces when they open it up; it’s a kind of childhood delight. Like the only things you might expect to find in a box of matches is either a load of match sticks or perhaps a trapped beetle. Here is a little book – it immediately transforms our ideas of proportion, which I dig. I have, however, noticed an expression of despondency when pyromaniacs look inside.
The zine-in-a-matchbox comes with a solitary match and a mission statement that ‘dares’ you to burn the zine after reading. But prior to that moral dilemma, you’ll get to read:
Ye Olde Picture Books – vintage books with inspirational graphics;
Raise High the Salinger – ‘The Lavender Room’ is named after the New York piano bar from Catcher in the Rye and there’s quotes from the dearly departed J.D.Salinger;
Thankyou for Being a Friend – my Golden Girls pick of talented friends;
For Want of a Word – want a word? I’ve got one;
Tools in Vogue – predominant tools that I’ve been using;
The ebay That Got Away – it’s tough being outbid; and
It’s all rounded off with a poem, or Pome.
How do you see the Zine contributing to innovation in the publishing market? Are they the laboratories of the publishing world?
I would consider them as neither innovative nor marketable, necessarily. Zines have been around for a long time, embracing traditional ideas of manual printing and limited distribution in order to make uncensored work available, like the Beats and their mimeographed chapbooks or the Surrealists’ Situationist International publications. And it’s not really a scene for making money – for example, I charge $4 for each zine but they take a fairly long time to make. Zines have a different currency; the pay off for me is putting work out there, getting positive responses and, due to the miniature nature of my zine, developing my fine motor skills.
It’s not in my neighbourhood, though, to say whether zines are the forerunners, or ‘laboratories’, or the descendants of the publishing world. In some ways, it’s hard to see where appropriation begins and ends. Your blog is a kind of zine, isn’t it? But I do warm to the idea of being inventive with packaging and that is where zines can really shine – we’re able to mess with the perception of what a ‘book’ is.
There’s the notion of the Wunderkammer, or cabinet of wonders, collections of strange and wonderous natural history objects. I think that’s what zines are, little wunderkammers, microcosms of the producer’s world, reflecting philosophies about politics, religion, art, whatever curiosities you like. If only the business of the publishing world were as enchanting as that concept!
I see you have also branched out and are creating your own brand of upcycled jewellery featuring farm yard animals, toy cars and dinosaurs. What is the inspiration behind your range and what can we expect to see in the future?
I love making the upcycled accessories! I construct brooches, rings and earrings out of children’s toys or other unconventional objects. Again, it is not really creating, it’s remaking in a way, taking it somewhere different. My approach is that dressing up should be fun, never too serious or austere. I’ve always been inspired to make accessories out of strange objects, as anyone who has seen me perform would know. The days of wearing headless Barbies, typewriter necklaces or cassette fascinators have laid a foundation. The Lavender Room is an experiment – a daring ride into being sartorial while maintaining a sense of humour.
I’ve only recently started selling online and at markets, so I have to wait and see if it takes or not. But I will continue to add to the collection – I’m making bottlecap earrings and brooches with distinctive images in them. I made a range of John Waters brooches for when I went to his show the other night. I was fortunate enough to meet him afterwards and I gave him one of Mink Stole; he seemed to take a shine to them.
Which artists or works are currently shaping your vision?
I am constantly inspired by art and artists so this will merely be an immediate response to all this discussion about the zine-in-a-matchbox. We’ve spoken on numerous occasions, Sharky, of my love for McSweeney’s innovative packaging; there’s collaborations like Dark Night of the Soul, that mix music with art, despite contractual obligations; Visionaire, for their coveted limited editions, particularly Issue 53 Sound; David Shrigley for his neuroses; Détournement, the original upcycling; Italo Calvino and Vladmir Nabokov for mutilating the convention of the Book; mandalas for momentariness and John Waters, for trash with integrity.
The Lavender Room will open at Brisbane’s Southbank Lifestyle Markets this Sunday 28th March between 9am and 5pm. So drop by and say hello, and see if there is anything that intrigues you and your accessory collection. And if you can’t get to the markets but like what you see (and don’t mind paying postage), you can go to The Lavender Room etsy store at www.lavenderroom.etsy.com