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Photo by Sapling \ Seedling Bindery, from the Ravenswing Ottawa Tumblr page.

Ottawa Creatives: Ravenswing Arts + Music Fair

By Amanda Armstrong on May 6, 2015

Given that the Ravenswing Arts + Music Fair is held this time of year, we’ve decided to do something a little different with Ottawa Creatives this month and focus it on this great community. The fair features a market of local artisans and zinesters, live music performances, and skill-sharing workshops. They are also partnered with the Clothesline Project, an art exhibit which brings awareness to the issue of violence against women and children.

The idea for Ravenswing was born out of co-director Sean Zio’s search to find local events where people could sell and trade their zines, artwork, and other handmade goods. While skimming the internet for events, Sean happened upon a white elephant sale in someone’s backyard that seemed to be exactly what he was looking for – diy, zines, crafts – only the sale had happened months previous, and in Washington, DC. The ad spurred Sean to run his own event here in Ottawa. “It seemed that it was that easy to run a diy event: get a space, post an ad, have fun” wrote Sean, in a blog post about Ravenswing’s beginnings, “I knew I had to do it”.

As fate would have it, a short while later Sean was selling copies of his zine, Electric Mayhem, at a zine fair organised by the Ottawa Art Gallery, when he happened upon an acquaintance of his, Lukayo Estrella, also selling zines and eager to start a zine fair of their own. Within weeks, Sean and Lukayo came together and created Ravenswing. They rented a space, made a call out to vendors, and put up posters inviting people to attend.

Originally, Ravenswing was a monthly event, held in a room at the Jack Purcell Centre, where local zinesters and artisans would split the cost of the room rental in exchange for a space to sell what they had created. There was also space for an open mic and skill-sharing workshops at the event.

After the first year organizing, promoting, and hosting the monthly event, Sean and Lukayo were exhausted and decided to take a well-deserved break. It wasn’t long, however, before they were right back at it. Recognizing the sheer amount of time and effort involved in running a monthly event, the pair decided to opt for an annual outdoor event and, together with help from people who loved the monthly event and wished to see it continue, they made it happen.

Ravenswing poster. Artwork by Sheena Kalmakova.

Ravenswing poster. Artwork by Sheena Kalmakova.


The first annual Ravenswing event was held on the last Sunday of May nine years ago and has been held on the last Sunday in May every year since. In those nine years, the Ravenswing community has grown into what it is now, “an open membership community of Centretown Ottawans who want to celebrate creativity and inclusivity”. “Ravenswing Ottawa is a volunteer-run, self-sustaining grassroots collective that supports and promotes arts, music and community in Centretown Ottawa”. Throughout the year, they work to plan the fair, as well as hold several fundraising events, like craft nights and karaoke, which raise money to cover their costs.

There are more than 70 vendors participating in this year’s fair, bringing us an eclectic mix of handmade items. There will be a series of live music performances by Pipahauntus, Robots!Everywhere!!, and Casa Logarto, as well as spoken word poet King Kimbit. DJ Lamb Rabbit will also be on the decks throughout the day spinning tunes between performances. There will be three workshops that will give you the opportunity to chill out, geek out, and rock out. Yoga instructor Natasha Beaudin will give us an introduction to mindfulness and meditation from 11:30am-12:30pm; the Art Animation Team and the Ottawa Public Library will be teaching people how to create a paper circuit path using LEDs, batteries, and conductive tape from 1-2pm; and you can learn to build your own solar powered sound system with Michael Caffrey and Kerry Campbell, from Ghettoblast Sound System, from 2:30-3:30pm. Ravenswing has become even more involved with the local artist community and this year’s fair will also feature an art gallery, where people can purchase original works by local artists.

This year mark Ravenswing’s ninth year of partnership with the Women’s Initiatives for Safer Environments (WISE) and the Women Events Network (WEN) to feature the Clothesline Project at the fair. The Clothesline Project is an art exhibit, meant to bring awareness to the issue of violence against women. Women and children write about their experiences of violence on t-shirts, displayed to “air out our dirty laundry”.

Ravenswing will be held in Minto Park on Sunday May 24th, 2015, from 11am-5pm. A formal announcement of vendors will be made today (May 6th). To learn more about Ravenswing Ottawa, see their website. You can also find them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.