Tortoise is a new magazine celebrating Chester’s independent spirit and creative scene. The magazine is the brainchild of a team including photographer Sam Ryley, graphic designer Kirsty Dalton and wine writer/marketer Paul Caputo. The magazine will be launched on Thursday night with a special event at Commonhall social and 400 copies will be available from independents across the city from Friday.

Sam Ryley, one third of the team behind the magazine told me the magazine is about culture in Chester. “We are trying to give a platform for creative people. We are going to try and showcase their work , be it writers, illustrators, designers, we are trying to put people together on the pages of the magazine as well”

The name of the magazine serves as a contrast to the fast pace of social media. “It’s slow news!” says Sam. “Its the opposite of click bait, all of the articles are pretty in depth,, all around 1000 words. ” The first edition, which is funded via advertising from independent businesses includes features on a diverse range of topics including theatre, witches, wine and music.


The creative team behind Tortoise


Keen to stress the independent angle of the magazine, Sam says there will be no restaurant or music reviews.  “Independents drive originality and creativity.” says photographer Sam who has been actively promoting culture in the city for some time, via the successful One Chair project and involvement in last years Murmuration event.

“A lot of people collaborated and a few ideas came out of it . I met Paul who had the idea for doing the mag and it all came together. 9-10 months really, its hard work to get something like this done. ”   The magazine is also appealing for professional contributions from the community, hopefully to take Tortoise to the next level. “I am trying to get to the point where we can start paying people and act as a real outfit. ”

With the high level of social media negativity in Chester and harkening back to an illusory  golden age of unlimited free chariot parking, I asked Sam if there was now a sense that things were on the up. Only minutes before this interview the Storyhouse sign was lifted up onto the building, heralding a new era in Chester’s culture :

“I need to hope that it is. I am a creative freelancer in Chester , by doing this I want creative people to know that there is a scene for them. I want to teach local businesses to start using their creatives as well and pay them properly. Once that starts to happen we can create a little economy that can self sustain. We have a platform here , that they can see that there are creative people here. Students don’t have to leave. These creative people are your culture , they create original ideas and put them out into the city. Business is alright on its own but where’s the art for arts sake ?”


The launch of Tortoise is on Thursday night at Commonhall social (7pm)  , including music from Campfire social. The event will be a relaxed opportunity to meet the team behind the magazine and chat to fellow creatives. The magazine will be available across the city from Friday!

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