Amelia Gregory, Amelia’s Magazine
Amelia Gregory, the presiding spirit of Amelia’s Magazine, has lived in Spitalfields for fourteen years in a hidden house enfolded with greenery at the far end of Bacon St, where Contributing Photographer Patricia Niven & I paid her a visit recently.
Once we sat down at the small table in her modestly-sized kitchen, I realised a kind of miracle had happened in that house. For ten years, Amelia ran her popular biannual magazine from here, creating a publication with an international reputation yet without any Media Corporation behind her – just a magnanimous spirit, a keen critical eye and a capacity for working long hours. She proved that an individual could produce a successful magazine with a strong personal identity and reach a wide audience by selecting and publishing the work of new artists, illustrators and designers that no-one had seen before. It was an inspired idea executed with panache and an impressively selfless aspiration, delivering glory with little financial reward – but launching a whole new wave of illustrators into the world.
“I just thought I should start my own magazine,” admitted Amelia, making it sound like a simple task.“At that time, Amelia was a really unusual name,” she revealed with a blush, “I didn’t know that in ten years it would be the most popular name for babies in the country!”
“I wanted it be an exploration of the things I liked and I wanted to make it clear that it was personal,” she told me, recalling her former frustration while working in the print media industry and the moment in 2004 when she launched out into uncharted territory, A vindication of this policy came with second issue when Amelia put the work of an artist working in the unusual medium of paper-cuts upon the cover, delivering early prominent recognition for Rob Ryan.
In front of us was a neat stack of tn magazines, representing five years’ work. “I never wanted to be big, I just wanted to prove you can do your own thing,” she confessed to me, slightly in awe of the pile sitting between us, “I always said I was only going to do ten years, and doing two issues a year was exhausting. I always feel you should do something until it’s really good and then stop – but now I love it and I can’t let it go.”
Since calling a halt to her printed magazine and moving online, Amelia has published two books that anthologise the best of contemporary illustration, drawn from open submissions. More significantly, she now has a child and her two-year-old son persisted in claiming his rightful demand to be the centre of attention, even as we pursued our conversation.
In my endeavours, I recognise there is only a permeable boundary between my life and my writing, and Amelia revealed that her personal experiences colour her work too. Two late miscarriages led Amelia to confront how little we comprehend of the functioning of the bodies we inhabit and inspired the title of her forthcoming book, “That Which We Do Not Understand.” Already, she has amassed a stash of breathtaking illustrations and, for the first time, creative writing upon the theme of mysteries. There is another week before the deadline for submission on Sunday 16th November and you can find details of Amelia’s Kickstarter project below.
With a restless imagination and a tendency for working through the night, Amelia has single-handedly reinvented notions of independent publishing yet she is touchingly vulnerable when faced with the evident challenge of handling a boisterous little boy. “Maybe I was getting so involved in my magazine, I needed a child to remind me about the world?”, she suggested to me with a thoughtful grin.
Illustration by Daria Hiazatova
Illustration by Dorry Spikes
Illustration by Lorna Scobie
Illustration by Mateusz Napieralski
Illustration by Maia Ford
Illustration by Essi Kimpimaki
Illustration by Katie Ponder
Illustration by Yoko Furosho
Illustration by Cristian Grossi
Illustration by Sarah Tanat Jones
Covers of Amelia’s Magazine
Amelia & her son
Portraits of Amelia Gregory copyright © Patricia Niven