Hosted by Miquita Oliver, Andy Leek (Notes to Strangers) and Zing Tjseng explore creative activism.

Last month we were delighted to partner up with the brilliant Katrina Larkin and the team at Fora, to curate the first in a series of Fora Talks on Toast morning events, in aid of the fantastic charity, Magic Breakfast.

Each talk will explore a different theme, designed to keep audiences culturally refreshed and inspired. First up was creative activism and more specifically, “How to use creativity to get your voice heard.”

Hosted by Miquita Oliver with guests artist Andy Leek (Aka Notes to Strangers) and Zing Tjseng (executive Editor of Vice Magazine) watch back HERE to learn about discovering and owning your creative voice, as well as tips on how to learn from failure and kick start a creative project. Plus, hear about recent creative activism projects that have stood out for our panel.

All donations from tickets for the event went directly to Magic Breakfast, who are a wonderful charity that provides healthy school breakfasts to around 167,000 school children who would otherwise be too hungry to learn.

Want to support their amazing work? You can still donate HERE.

 How did you discover your creative voice?

“Art can be therapy to get you through difficult times. Failures can lead to a feeling of, “what have I got to lose?” It’s such a powerful feeling to be fearless.” – Andy

“Reading and books. I read a lot and wrote loads of stories as a child which made me realise I had a creative voice I wanted to express. My mum was a huge encouragement, to take me to a library every week to collect a pile of books.” –  Zing



How to find the right platform or space for your creative voice and engage an audience.

“Focus on the artwork itself rather than what platform it should go on, so it finds its own place to live” – Andy

How has the digital age affected creativity – has it damaged it through over-saturation or enabled it through ‘connect-ability’ and providing a platform for all?

“I have a love-hate relationship with social media, I’ve come to the point now that if I really care about something then I will create an art project around that. If I’m going to say something about an issue I’m going to say it through a project rather than a written shared opinion.” – Andy



What has stood out for you creatively recently?

“I’d like to give a shout out to The God of Cookery, a series of Chinese protest recipes, themed around police brutality and asian hate crime. It’s a beautiful moulding together of influences, cultures and communities and made me think of these issues in a different way, through food. It felt really new and exciting.” – Zing

“I love Mortimer and Whitehouse ‘Go Fishing. Talking openly about feelings, mental health and their past. Setting a really nice example of where men need to get to.” – Andy

How have you dealt with projects that haven’t gone so well?

“When I launched my Forgotten Women book series, I had a book launch where the book shop had only sold a few tickets and they said “it’s not worth your time so we’re going to cancel.”  It felt like the end of the world. But looking back, the experience was really valuable as it taught me that  you can’t let one incident set the scene for the whole project. You have to brush it off and carry on. And in the end the book series was a success.” – Zing

“Failure is deeply important. I went bankrupt publicly when I was 26 and it rebuilt me as a human being.” – Miquita

“Start to not care about the likes and comments. If I like it, that’s all that matters. From that position you feel a sense of power. The big step forward comes from the rubble of broken plans.” – Andy



Question from Fleur Britten, freelancer for Sunday Times Style 

How best to deal with being in the doldrums? How do you get through those periods?

“It’s all about moving a little bit towards a better place. It can feel like an impossible task but if you do a tiny thing towards a better place each day you will start to gain momentum and eventually you’ll get out of it. Even if it’s something as simple as eating well for that day, tidying your room, just little things to start moving in the right direction.” – Andy

“When I wrote a podcast for the Women’s Prize, I interviewed the authors on how to kick-start a creative  process when you’re writing. They had so much advice, a lot of which was about keeping moving. Dictating the novel to yourself while walking through the streets, writing on public transport as it felt like lower stakes than on a laptop, and sending yourself text messages. Some of the best work can come from when you’re moving, on a jog or skipping! Don’t think all work has to be done when you’re sitting at a desk.” – Zing

Return to Journal