Interview :: Alice Gage of Ampersand Magazine

May 3rd 2011


Did you know there is a word in Japanese for those little faded dots of light you sometimes get in photographs? You know the ones: those little lit-up blurry bits of sparkle in the unfocused background. In English we can only grasp at several clumsy words to kinda sort-of approximate this magical fade and the Japanese can do it in one: bokeh. There is a beautiful simplicity to that.

Although Alice Gage splashes out on several thousand words to illuminate that fade in print, she does so in succinct, sophisticated and carefully edited style. The 27-year-old publishing graduate named her third issue of Ampersand Magazine The Fade, and her crew responded in a kaleidoscope of colourful contributions. Gage carefully curated parts from journalists, fiction writers, historians, comedians, photographers, academics, musicians and more into an absorbing and elegant whole. She feels the delicate and intangible concept speaks to Ampersand’s creators, content and reason for being.

“Try yelling ‘the fade! with as much impending doom as you can,” Alice directed when asked about the mag’s title. “Got it? A real sense of crushing inevitability? Good. Because now you understand why it was chosen as a theme. It is very fun to say and sounds important and scary. The Fade became what it is through the process of making it; it took time to work it out because it is such an amorphous concept. The Fade grasps at an idea or an event or a moment and, like a photograph, captures it before it disappears. It is about forgetting, remembering, desire, decay, fear and fate.”

Gage kicked off Ampersand back in 2009 because she was uninspired by the mag shelves. “I didn’t think Australians were taking enough risks in magazines, it seemed everyone was just towing the line,” she explains. “It had gotten so bad that readers had forgotten what a good magazine could be. I also wanted to do something useful with my brain before it turned to gazpacho and I carked it.”

Her brain did not turn in to chilled tomato soup, and you can all thank whoever you ritualistically thank for that. The first issue sold out completely, and won hearts and minds across the country. Helen Garner called it “so cool” and Bill Henson jumped on board to head their photography competition. The real win came this year, when art publishing powerhouse Art&Australia magazine offered to help Gage publish The Fade and two more editions in 2011.

The Fade will launch tomorrow night at Serial Space in Chippendale and you can raise your glass along with Gage. She says she’s “bloody relieved” to see this day. “Relieved because it took a lot of time and energy of quite a few people and I want them to see that it hasn’t been in vain,” she explains. “And also relieved because I am actually very fond of the issue. No-one wants to put something out that they kind of think stinks. And for anyone that has ever created anything, you will know that you most certainly go through a period where you hate your darling. So I’m relieved that I am confident that this is a good thing and I am proud to put it in the world.

“Holding three issues is pretty great too. One is a start, two is fun and three is a set. I didn’t know if I’d ever get this far.”

What: Ampersand Magazine Launch, Issue #3 ‘The Fade’

Where: Serial Space, 33 Wellington St, Chippendale

When: Thursday 5 May, 6-10pm

How Much: $10 with a free copy of the magazine


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