by Cat Van Maanen
CONKER was created as an immersive and disruptive magazine to help create a safe space for survivors of marginalising experiences. I wanted to lose the clinical way that certain subjects - especially subjects surrounding invisible and visible illnesses were discussed. It felt like we were in a time where particular groups were being discussed as a topic of conversation by people who had nothing to do with these groups. This lead to a growth in stigma and alienation.
I have always been a lover of the written word, especially magazines. However I never found my own experiences within the pages of even my favourite publications... absolutely nothing.
And that’s how CONKER came about. The name itself is based on the idea of conquering illnesses and championing others... creating a safe space for art and growth. However the other meaning is that, just like the CONKER seed drops from a horse chestnut tree and grows again into a huge a mighty tree… so can we as people. We can overcome huge challenges as a community and on an individual basis.
Growth is an ongoing experience and is inextricably linked with the human experience. CONKER is as much part of a movement as it is a biannual publication. I created A REBIRTH (the first issue) on the back of a close call with my own mental health, it was just as much a chance for me to grow and prosper as it was for others. All I’ve ever wanted is to be there for others and help support others. It just made sense!