Mark Carlin, Director / Custodian / Sounds From The Other City

What’s your relationship with Islington Mill and can you describe what the Mill means to you?

I arrived at Islington Mill in 2004 and very soon became whole-heartedly engaged in everything that was going on here. I’ve always had a deep love for music which led me to open a recording studio on the ground floor of the Mill. Before that was even completed, I had already begun thinking of other possibilities for the large open space next door. Together with a group of people who were based at the Mill, we slowly set about clearing out this space which then became the Mill’s home for events, concerts, clubs, parties and all manner of social and creative happenings.

During my time at the Mill, I’ve levelled concrete, written business plans, managed building projects, made some best friends, had life-changing experiences, and been supported and challenged all the way along. That to me sums up the essence of what is special about Islington Mill – so much is possible, so much is exchanged and passed on, and so many people walk in with one idea and out with another.

I now serve as one of the Directors of Islington Mill Arts Club. Over the past few years I’ve had the privilege of working on event curation and production involving a host of international artists and their ideas, including via festivals such as FutureEverything and Manchester International Festival. The energy, urgency, warmth and friendliness of the Mill constantly amazes me when I return through its doors.

What’s a memorable experience that the Mill has made possible for you?

In 2005, I set up Sounds From The Other City Festival, along with my brother and fellow Mill Director, Maurice. What began as a modest idea to host a small, multi-venue, one-day music event along Islington Mill’s neighbourhood of Chapel Street, has developed over the past 13 years into one of the North West’s best-loved alternative arts events, with hundreds of participating artists and thousands of audience members attending over the May Day Bank Holiday.

Each year, musicians, DJs, artists, promoters, programmers and curators come together to develop ideas and create what has become a truly magical experience. From plays in abandoned car parks to future pop stars performing in pubs, every year never fails to excite and inspire me and it just wouldn’t have been possible – and still wouldn’t be possible – without the close-knit community and sense of possibility that resides in, around and allied to Islington Mill.

What does the ideal future of Islington Mill look like to you?

I’d love to see an Islington Mill that continues to grow and provide opportunity to as many people as possible. I’d love to see a more diverse group of people attempt even more ‘impossible’ feats and for some of those to turn into incredible personal and cultural successes. I’d love to see the little victories continue to be celebrated as well as plenty of space left open for failure and for things going wrong. I believe in spaces that try to offer something that doesn’t already exist and that can challenge accepted norms along the way. I hope that the sense of warmth, friendliness and community that exists here continues to grow.

What/who is currently influencing your work or your thinking?

I’ve been reading Michael Talbot’s book ‘The Holographic Universe’ and dipping in and out of accompanying reading.  At school I paid little attention to science or spirituality but recently they’ve become areas of increasing fascination. Understanding the ebbs and flows of the planet and its inhabitants’ energy occupies a lot of my thinking these days.