During December 2014, artist and designer Kerry-Ann Lee ran workshops at Te Papa to teach the art of ‘zine-making’. Zines are a sort of hand-crafted vehicle for the ideas and imagination of writers and artists.
Working with a local designer, Vera Padhila, and with the story of our recent work profiling the scientific research programme on Albatross Personality, I developed a zine to explore the world from the viewpoint of Betsy, the adorable, inflatable, blue cow who was the research mascot, and experimental ‘novel object’ in our study into the prevalence of shy and bold personality types in the wandering albatross at the Crozet Islands.
Its always fun to try new formats to explore the creative side of science and to find new ways of communicating stories, so that they reach different audiences. There are so many formats and different approaches to zines, all with their specific appeal. We chose a ‘poster’ type of format in the end, as we had some intriguing images that were nice to show in large format and in relation to one another to tell the whole story.
Kerry-Anne Lee, the workshop convenor, commented on the zine we completed over the Christmas holidays.
“Zines are a really fun and engaging way of presenting stories and ideas visually. When Susan attended a public zine workshop I was running at Te Papa and introduced the story of Betsy the Blue Cow to me, it seemed like it would offer a lot of possibility to be told in zine-form. The final graphic is creative and informative. It would be wonderful to see more stories about scientific discovery presented using simple illustration and zine-making techniques for web and/or print to reach diverse audiences. More collaborations between artists and scientists please! :)”
We’d love feedback from our readers on the zine, and new editions or chapters to this story if readers want to submit their own versions of events for Betsy.
You can download the zine, and a clear-cut image of Betsy, to enable you to put her into different contexts of your own.
Share your photos of Betsy in new places with Te Papa on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Where can you take Betsy next? What should Betsy try next in experimental biology? What new adventures should Betsy get involved in?
Download Travels with Betsy zine
Thanks to everyone who helped, commented on, cajoled and enthused about this zine, it was a delight to create, and lovely to work with such a talented crowd of mentors and contributors.