March 2016 - Jed Phoenix blog feature!
I'm guest feature on the blog of inspirational designer Jed Phoenix!
You can read the full text below, or click on the link.
Monday, 14 March 2016
Rosie Garland is a creative talent and wearer of a JPoL tie. She's a singer, poet, performer and writer who has experience of the rock n roll lifestyle and been on Radio 4's Women's Hour. She has won awards and secured book deals. But it hasn't been all plain sailing. There have been many bumps along the way.This blog post, will go into more detail about:
· Rosie Garland, singer, writer and performer
· Rosie Garland in the face of adversity
· What's next for Rosie Garland
Rosie Garland, singer, writer and performer
It is hard to deny that Rosie Garland embodies elements of the dark side in her creative endeavours. To quote from her Facebook profile "I've always written about outsiders; whoever they might be. I'm interested in character who won't (or can't) squeeze into the one-size-fits-all template they have been provided, and the friction that occurs when they try. I know that comes from always being an outsider myself. I celebrate it, proud in the face of the overwhelming sludge of "normality"". During a talk at the British Library on the subject of "Goth: The scene that wouldn't die", Rosie states that being "outside" suggests that there's a mainstream "inside" that people want to be in. Rosie, perhaps drawing from her associations with queer culture, asserts that she's just different. She doesn't even care whether people think she's goth or not. She cares more about whether her audience like her lyrics, poetry or novels. Despite current fashion trends that wish to emulate the glamour and style of the scene, goths are often sneered at. Rosie quotes from Tank Girl - The Oddessy, Issue 3, during a talk at the British Library "The fact that I've paid absolutely no attention to what goths wear is an even bigger insult to them and their turdy culture" - Jamie Hewlett.
Rosie Garland was born to a teenage runaway, so perhaps being an outsider is in her very DNA. She went to Leeds University in the early 1980s and came out both as a post graduate and as a singer in post-punk/gothic rock band The March Violets, with whom she's toured the US, UK and Europe. Her alter-ego Rosie Lugosi, the Vampire Queen, appeared on a multitude of stages as "A truly unique performer and one that straddles the literature, SM and queercore scenes with ease" - Designer Magazine. As a cabaret performer, Rosie Lugosi was able to bring her poems to life and be Queer for Britain. In the late 1980s, Rosie was inspired by the Roszika Parker book "The Subversive Stitch: Embroidery and the Making of the Feminine", which interwove the history of embroidery and the history of women. With an enthusiastic group of Manchester-based women, Rosie formed a group called Spinsters. Together they wrote a show called Tailormaids, looking at the history of unmarried women and how that tied in to the textile industry. Rosie and her fellow Spinsters pooled a range of talents: film-makers, theatre technicians, visual artists, singers, performers, researchers, musicians, fundraisers and writers. The sum was, as Rosie states, definitely greater than the parts, securing Arts Council funding to tour the show around art galleries and performance venues.
In 2013 Rosie Garland signed a book deal with Harper Collins and The Palace of Curiosities was published. A series of readings and book signings up and down the country were followed by the release of her second novel Vixen in 2014. But, like many subversive creative talents, Rosie Garland's success has been hard won.
Rosie Garland in the face of adversity
Rosie left The March Violets in the mid 1980s as the band, riding on a wave of good reviews and indie chart success, introduced more pop-sounding members. Rosie ploughed her energy into teaching for a couple of years at a sixth form college in Sudan - a far cry from the ever-increasing commercialisation of the band.
Between touring with Spinsters/Subversive Stitch Exhibition in the 1990s, establishing Club Lash in Manchester and continuing to perform as Rosie Lugosi, Ms Garland worked on her writing craft. She had an agent, submitted short stories and poetry to competitions, and offered up her take on the life and adventures of the outsider in the hope that they'd be published and promoted to as wide an audience as possible. For over a decade, Rosie Garland's agent told her that her style, her subject matter, her background wasn't flavour of the month; that there weren't any publishers willing to take a punt on her. Yet she continued to write and perform, just as Van Gogh continued to paint before folk other than his brother took a punt on him by buying his paintings. To be creative even though you face rejection after rejection takes passion, discipline and commitment . And those are traits that Rosie Garland seems to have in spades.
In 2007, Rosie Garland teamed up with Simon Denbigh and Tom Ashton again for a one-off gig in Leeds with The March Violets. The reception to the gig was fabulous and the band were invited to play at a number of venues and festivals around the UK and Europe. Plans, however, were interrupted by the news Rosie received at the beginning of 2009. She had throat cancer. For some, being a singer with throat cancer would have tipped them over the edge. But Rosie channelled her emotions into her solace - poetry. The effects that this consuming disease had on Rosie's femininity and connection to others is expressed in Dignity:
"Tolerating strangers who whisper 'You're so brave', And resisting the urge to deck them. Going bald. Watching your tits shrivel to the size of peanuts, And your arse go as flat as a burst paper bag. Remaining polite When the close friend disappears off the face of the earth When you tell him your diagnosis.....
...Standing up And saying 'I've got cancer' Without need, Without self pity. Standing up And saying 'I'm clear'"
Rosie had to learn how to sing again. And she did just that, taking to the stage at the O2 Academy in London for The March Violets Reunion gig in November 2010.
What's next for Rosie Garland
Rosie continues to perform with The March Violets. Following a Pledge Music campaign, they spent a month touring the East Coast of America at the end of 2015. The Pledge Music campaign was a roaring success, with the project fully backed within two weeks. 10% of the money raised after the goal was met went to Macmillan Cancer Support. Their Mortality album is due out this year.
Rosie's reading and speaking gigs see her travelling the UK. Earlier this month, she was guest lecturer at the University of Surrey as part of the "Cultures in Contact" seminar series. Coming up, she's on the panel of a discussion about "A Portfolio Career: When One Genre Isn't Enough" at the Surrey New Writers Festival on May 14th 2016. Rosie will also be a special guest at the Chorlton Arts Festival in Machester on May 24th. Just around the corner, however, Rosie will be returning to Bar Wotever at London's iconic Royal Vauxhall Tavern on Tuesday 15th March to help celebrate everything Goth, Bi and Fabulous!
Rosie Garland truly is a creative force to be reckoned with. She is warm-hearted and humble, talented and deep. If you haven't already read The Palace of Curiosities, Vixen, Everything Must Go, Things I Did While I Was Dead or any of Rosie Garland's other books, then do. Her writing captivates you and takes you on a journey into a visual and a visceral world. She also makes amazingly tasty plum jam...