Craic Is The Independent Zine Painting A Modern Portrait Of Northern Ireland

What’s the Craic, lads?

Prepped and primed to give your bookshelf a healthy dose of Northern Irish charm, James Robinson is back with a second issue of his independent zine, Craic.

The London-based image-maker launched the project in 2021 when he was living back at home in Ballymoney, just outside of Belfast, during the pandemic. “There was a lot of tension at the time, buses burning, rioting on the streets of Belfast. Everything went a bit AWOL during Covid and around the post Brexit agreement,” says Robinson. “This really motivated me to try and make something positive out of the situation amongst all the bad press Northern Ireland was receiving.”

Originally populated with Robinson’s own photography and styling work – which has seen torsos littered with Tayto crisp packets and everyday blokes turned into leprechauns clad in Paul Mescal-approved O’Neill’s GAA shorts – moving into its second issue, Craic has become a collaborative effort.

“The main overarching theme is ‘Catch Yourself On’, which basically means don’t be ridiculous,” says Robinson.

Inside you’ll find a photo series by Brian Lincoln of an Easter Sunday in Belfast and off duty marchers during an Annual Orange Order Parade. “Brian’s work is so brilliant as he’s able to document both catholic and protestant communities in such a thoughtful way with lots of humour attached to it,” says Robinson. There’s also Shannon Ritchie, a rising creative who explores their complicated relationship with home through a series of burnt photographs of the politically tense housing estate they grew up on; “an act of ‘intervention’ to come to terms with the place they grew up,” adds Robinson.

Elsewhere, Gareth Sweeney photographs modern Northern Irish punks, Robinson points his lens to inner city drag queens and Jack Farrar documents footy fans during the ritual of match day (a pit stop at the kebab shop included).

“The new issue captures a modern Northern Ireland and brings together a cohort of individuals eager to push through the past,” says Robinson. “I want people to see how rich the creativity is coming out of Northern Ireland. We’re such a small country yet there’s so much to give. I hope it brings a smile on some people’s faces too, a sense of familiarity and also a feeling of hope.”

You can shop Craic Issue 02 here. Next weekend, Robinson will be selling both issues of Craic at Paris Ass Book Fair at Palais de Tokyo on May 17-19.  


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