For regular visitors to Hay-on-Wye, as much as for residents, the town can seem bewildering. A shop that was there last time is either gone or relocated. In its place is some other business or trade, with new people, new merchandise, new ideas. It’s like the Hay kaleidoscope has been given another little turn and the pieces fall into another pattern.
This time it’s The Keep. Since the idea of the magazine was conceived, its headquarters has been an office on The Pavement, a sloping street, a pedestrianised neck, that connects the close-knit upper town to the wider commercial spaces at the Clocktower and along Broad Street. The Keep used to be a popular greengrocery before it was an art gallery, then an antique shop, until here we are – The Keep.
The Keep office is busy: it’s a shop selling our own magazine, a place of creative work for some of the team, a meeting place for all editorial team members, a drop-in centre for friends of the magazine and occasionally – maybe just because the door is often open to the Pavement – an unofficial tourist information centre. Now and again, people stop by just to ask about our dramatic window display.
What is it? What does it mean?
Our big, beautiful office window is our face to the town. It is a natural space for communication, to show aspects of the projects developed and supported by Hay & Wye CIC, the not-for-profit community interest company that publishes The Keep. The window has so far been dedicated to the work of local artists, a large-scale map of the Brecon Beacons (to celebrate our home territory), and now it is filled by an eye-catching collage of the cover, images, illustrations and words of the magazine.
Central in the window is a very large, high quality print of the cover, a specially-commissioned photograph by Robert Wyatt. It is surrounded by open magazines to give an idea of the layout of the very first issue of The Keep. The huge eye on the cover looks directly at the passers-by and watches the street life of the Pavement. Pedestrians stop to look. People stop to read.
It is deliberately provocative. It is enigmatic. It looks out not only from the cover of the magazine but from the office of The Keep. Since it first appeared in the window, the eye of The Keep has intrigued its observers, simultaneously looking at it and being looked at by it.
This window display was installed just before the beginning of the Hay Festival in the spring of this year, when the whole town was abuzz with literary excitement, cultural enlightenment and celebratory energy on the day The Keep magazine was launched with a party at Booth’s Bookshop, released in different local shops and online, and distributed nationwide.
The Keep window will continue to be a constant, even controversial, medium to show the work we’ve been producing inside the office, behind and beyond the looking glass. It will be a town landmark, a conversation piece. It will make the Hay & Wye office a known place of creativity, an established centre of interest in the town of Hay. It will keep everyone entertained, informed and intrigued.
Keep watching this space.