This summer saw the release of ‘FOYER’ magazine’s debut issue. Created by Fiona Livingston, ‘FOYER’ aims to “examine feelings of homelessness and displacement, and the importance of family,” as noted on the back cover. This is only the peak of what is presented within the first issue, focused on the theme of connection. The word ‘Connect’ sits on the front cover beneath the main image, in uppercase and in a dark grey colour – is it asking us to connect or telling us? I was about to find out.
‘FOYER’ is an A5 sized journal that sits at the intersection of identity discovery and identity crisis. Fiona’s Editors note recalls a dual meaning to the name of the magazine – meaning ‘a place to meet, a fire, a home.’ Fiona further adds,‘FOYER aims to evoke these feelings of togetherness, a safe place to express one’s thoughts and experiences, explore culture and identity freely, and connect with others worldwide.’ The front cover image is an illustration by Zena Kay. It shows a couple of women sitting around a dining table, making conversational gestures with a bowl of spaghetti bolognaise in front of them. It’s an example of a daily ritual for families and friends where conversations are held – welcoming us, the readers, into the conversation and dishing us up a plate.
‘Hyphenated and Proud’ sits on the inside cover, illustrated in a beautiful hand to hand link up with DNA strands joining the two. Drawn by Ellis Brown, this reminds of a permanent motto that can be applied to not only identity, but can also be applied to job roles and naming. But not taking away from its meaning, this is a culturally significant message that drives the feelings of reading each of the pieces in the magazine. The issue is a collective of voices from across the globe and are sectioned by tabs including Poetry, Fiction, Essays, Food, Ukraine, Tangible Culture, Artwork,Interview, Film, Tool kit and Photography.
Readers can discover a music playlist curated by the contributors, accompanying the theme and accessible via a QR code on the first inner page. Having a sound world to accompany the printed journey is an immersive process, but the tangible sense of identity is felt through reading ‘FOYER’. The issue is packed with words and punctuated by some imagery – including a photo journalism piece early named ‘A Dutch Apology’. It describes an apology from the Dutch PM to Indonesia that was made in March 2022, documenting a time of extreme violence perpetrated by the Dutch during the 1945-1949 Indonesian war of independence. It tells the story of a father who had to build a new home for the family due to the trauma caused by the war. The images shown are based on family and food, but are underscored by a feeling of unresolved resentment due to the lack of justice.
"There are avid stories of self-belief and self-discovery throughout, each with their own personal narrative that sets each apart; there are no two stories the same."
Stuart Williams, owner of Overleaf
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Political, educational, generational and current affair divisions are featured in the issue. From the current war in Ukraine, the haunting on tensions in Indonesia as previously noted and a featured article about ERIC, a career platform co-founded by Mae Yip. Mae notes that ERIC was created due to an unhappiness stemming from jobs at the time and a lack of accessibility into the creative industries. She speaks about her Granddad and that he was one of the first along with his generation to bring Chinese food to the UK. It’s an embracing interview that dives into cultural expectations around language and questions what’s important in their lives. Mae also speaks about internal conflicts, and notes, “I think embracing who you are just unlocks so much more potential and helps you to believe in yourself.”
There are avid stories of self-belief and self-discovery throughout, each with their own personal narrative that sets each apart; there are no two stories the same. The basis for many stems from family history, of course – to discover who you are you must look to the past. However current events such as Brexit have forced people to look back – for good reasons and for bad. Carola Kolbeck’s piece on Brexit recalls the dismay of the UK’s decision to leave (as noted by Carola), and the need to revisit their German, European identity moving forward. There was a renewed sense of pride in being German and Carola aimed to bring that pride into her teaching in the UK. Leaving the EU led many people like Carola to question freedom of movement, but also to establish a new relationship with their roots.
Roots are something we all share and ‘FOYER’ awakens those feelings and questions that are sometimes buried beneath the surface. There is a sensitivity in the curation of each of the pieces, where each have their own space to breathe and tell their story. “Where did you come from? I want to learn about your life,” Melissa D. Burrage writes in their poem, ‘Babusya, Sing To Me of Home’. Although asking the question to establish their own roots for discovery in Melissa’s own family, we can take the same question and apply it to ourselves – maybe there are discoveries waiting to happen. ‘FOYER’ explores identity in terms we can all relate to, but also empowers and ignites a sense of being. That sense of being could be a family recipe or even an unresolved gap in knowledge that is now explored, but can also take the shape of healing. Individually and collectively, ‘FOYER’ seeks to identify the threads that culturally connect us – a journey ready to be embarked upon.