In 2010, Jade French and Ellen Angus sat down and started a blog. They called it Not So Popular, because they pretty much were. Straddling the creative world, they were producing art, poetry, short stories, essays and more – but who was going to read that stuff? A combination of university and the 9-5 kept them busy during the days, but in the evenings they made plans.
Throughout 2010 and 2011 they began working with Emely Neu, a performance artist and curator. They scraped enough money together to print their first publication – a broadsheet newspaper filled with cultural findings. Emy produced a series of acoustic music sessions called In The Chapel, filmed in the Zionist building she lived next to. Ellen was creating large scale oil paintings and applying for a Masters, and Jade was editing web content, writing poetry, and completing her BA. As demands at their various universities grew Ellen and Emy moved onto their studies and other projects.
From 2012 onwards, Not So Popular had expanded to include various other practising artists. These included Rachel Rigby and Olivia Hennessy who began to get more involved as other members graduated. Evolving as a group, they began to put on nightclubs to subsidise other cultural projects, such as their poetry night Poetry For A Pound which began to pop up in shop windows around East London. One of these nights, $ister $ister, was created as a backlash against sleazy clubs playing the likes of Robin Thicke. Recruiting female DJs, they play female-fronted r’n’b, hip hop, garage and more. Always trying to keep one eye on their social and political ideals, they are now engaging in projects directly motivated by their feminism. These include a series of filmed talks that informally inform on feminist topics that dominate the press and social media. They are also compiling a print project that studies the female nude and continuing to provide an outlet for young, creative people who may get overlooked elsewhere. Through poetry, art, performance, essays, talking and creating they believe that the world can change – or at least start to think about changing.
In 2013, Jade French (representing Not So Popular) worked alongside Emy Neu, Verity Flecknell and Beth Siveyer to produce the art and activism book Let’s Start A Pussy Riot. This project, in support of the two members of Pussy Riot jailed until 2013, brought together voices from the artistic community in support of the group and exploring the topics of feminist, LGBT rights, environmental activism and more.
Not So Popular are a collaborative group of young artists and writers who live in London. We were all a bit tired of doing lots of work that was never seen by anyone else except our nans, so we joined together to make a mark.
We have put on art exhibitions, poetry nights and club events. We produce ‘zines and prints. We do this because we want to showcase the work of young artists/writers who want an opportunity to showcase their work.
Rise above the 9-5. Look it in the teeth, and contribute your work to an issue/ exhibition. Don’t sit around and wait for Saatchi… He’ll never come. He only likes Chinese contemporary art and massive breasts.
We believe in collectives- to work with people, not against them. We believe in personality- a myriad of different voices drumming along the inner-city streets with creative cries.
Not So Popular take their inspiration from the depths of cultural talent because everything from Van Gogh’s ear to Brian Harvey’s baked potato were not so popular at one point.
Jade is a writer, editor, and occasional poet. She founded Not So Popular because she wanted to be able to provide a platform for the talented people she kept bumping into. Through curation and events, she has developed Not So Popular from a blog to a collective that produces print media, short films, online content and live performance. In 2013, she edited the book Let’s Start A Pussy Riot, a collaborative piece of work that brought together intersectional feminist voices to discuss Pussy Riot and the issues they stood up for. Since then, she has spoken on the matter in a variety of settings, including Oxford, Manchester and Queen Mary Universities, Festival Number 6 and the Southbank Centre. As a feminist, she believes in everyday activism and at has often attempted to get her head around Judy Butler. She is currently working as an editorial assistant at the mobile app YPlan, planning a series of talks with Not So Popular, and writing, writing, writing.
Rachel Rigby joined Not So Popular in 2012, after contributing to the zine previously. She became involved because she loved writing and talking but wanted to motivate herself and others to be heard. She is a feminist and activist and doesn’t think women should be afraid of using these terms. Not So Popular uses events to promote and exhibit artist and creatives, which is something Rachel embraces in the collective, as she feels it is one of the most useful tools when providing a creative platform.
At the moment she is waitressing, working alongside other artists and designers who never fail to continue creating and remaining aware that, regardless of circumstance, there is always space for creativity.
Editor/ Producer/ Events Organiser
Olivia is a writer, editor and producer living in London. She first got involved with feminism and Not So Popular after being told that “girls aren’t funny”, a small insult for her but a giant leap for womankind. With a professional background in arts events and production, she also writes scripts for drama in the continuing fight for female funniness.
Olivia’s passion comes from the engagement of politics and art – whether comedy, canvas or somebody’s unmade bed (thanks Tracey), her writing, production and curation for Not So Popular is consistently prompted by cultural and contemporary issues.
As Not So Popular move from ‘zine to broadcast, Olivia is helping to produce short poetry films and the upcoming spate of feminist talks, ‘Not So Forum’.
Hugh Smith / Kate Knowles / Nastasa Cordeaux / Rachel Rigby / Sam O’Hana / Ella Watkins / Hetti Lawrence / Darren Hardie / Philip Likos-Corbett / Jess Brand / Olivia Hennessy / Jade French / Jane Fayle / Helen Tippell / Phil Grant / Sam Langtree / Rosie Spence / Meryl Corrie / Patrick Norrie / Sarah Boulton / Miranda Holmqvist / Alex Sarychkin / Katie Knowles / Grace Frean / Liv Jeffes / James McLoughlin / Christopher Smail / David Hugh-Jones / Bruno Cooke / Eno Enefiok / Holly Brentnall / Giovanna Macari / Johan Sebastian / Californya 96 /Lottie Lee-Gough / Lilly O’Donnell / Ed East / Steph Kelley / Jacob Middleton / Elisabeth Sherman / Charles Olafare /