norch magazine


There were six Norch poetry magazines made between 1967 and 1969. They were all hand-made with card covers and held together with staples. They were part of the small press movement, also known as the mimeograph revolution, that swept across Britain and was supported by alternative bookshops such as Bristow's.

Home-made magazines were not a new idea, science fiction clubs from the 1930s may have made some of the earliest, but the main influence on Norch must have been that of Jeff Nuttall who had edited and published 17 issues of "My Own Mag" from 1963 to 1966. It may not be entirely co-incidental that Nuttall's arrival in Norwich coincided with the first Norch.

William Burroughs contributed to My Own Mag when he couldn't get published anywhere else and his ghostly influence of paranoid fiction and surreal, cut-up texts were carried to the yards and alleys of Norwich via the corporeal presence of Nuttall.

The child-like title of My Own Mag, which harks back to school days and comics (and which was made using the school facilities where Nuttall worked), was a contrast to the contents which dealt with adult issues. In that respect, some of the contributors to Norch followed in the tradition of My Own Mag: Innocent title hides drug-fueled, cut-up weirdness.

NORCH 1 : In this you can find drawings and poetry from Jeff Nuttall; Michael Marais; Jon Kiddell; Tim Sillence; Pete Hoida; Barry King; Dave Glendining and Jacques Tisserant.

NORCH 2 : Here is Maurice Carpenter, Jon Kiddell; Barry Edgar Pilcher; drawings by Rick Caston; J. Sutton; Earle Birney; Alan Holzer; Colin Cross; Tim Sillence; Phil Mosley; Venetia Tompkins; Pete Hoida; Tony Drane; Pete English; J. Barns; Rob Parfitt; Jeff Nuttall and Dave Glendining.

Rick Caston remembers doing the artwork and wrote the following: "Thanks Peter. The drawings are all mine. I had just turned 20 in ‘67, but my main themes of my work are already present in these works.

The cover design is based on Buddhist symbols for the elements (square as earth, circle as water, triangle as fire, half-circle as air, and the flame as ether) representing levels of consciousness and set in an outer circle representing life and the material world. I was reading Govinda’s “The Foundations of Tibetan Buddhism” and attending the Friends of Western Buddhism temple in London at that time. The two garden drawings were influenced by T.S. Eliot’s poems “The Four Quartets” and, as you mention, Colin Self’s garden drawings. I visited him at Waterloo Park, as he was drawing a hedge and it influenced me for years. Not just the drawing itself, but the intensity of his vision. One of my drawings I notice is more sensual – but I was 20. The other drawing is of Glastonbury Tor. It was made after my first visit there and represented the start of my interest in earth mysteries and landscape. When I moved to Germany in ’74, I was already specialising in landscape as a subject, which set me apart from the art scene here.

I knew Giles Bristow from meeting him at the shop and he staged an exhibition of my drawings there around 69/70. As I was based in London at that time, I was not really part of the Norwich art scene then and most of my contacts were through my friend Michael Gillingwater. He introduced me to Tim Sillence and we often met socially or at the shop when I moved back to Norfolk in around 71. I liked Tim and we used to enjoy his witty, poetic company and I am saddened to read that he died in 2002. He introduced me in turn to Jeff Nuttall and we went once to his flat for tea, together with my then girlfriend Sue Parks, although that was the only occasion I spoke with him. Michael and I also worked at different times, as assistants, for Colin Self, who also exhibited his American drawings at the shop. I remember my Mum called Colin to ask him about his “shocking” portrayal of prostitutes in the exhibition and he kindly explained to her his underlying criticisms of American double standards, as he saw it. I hope that you can include some work from this show."