Ignite Meetup: The Big Youth Experiment

Blog piece and photos by Hayley Wells

March’s Ignite meet-up was held at the newly renovated Essex Print Studio in Ingatestone. With four rentable studio spaces, a meeting room and access to professional printmaking facilities, it’s an ideal workspace for creatives. It also made a lovely, comfortable venue for Ignite! 

First up was The Ideas Hub who spoke about some of the many projects they’ve been working on in the Chelmsford community. Based in Chelmsford Central Library, The Ideas Hub aims to improve the wellbeing of local residents through three key areas: more arts, more sustainability, less loneliness. We were treated to a preview screening of a stop-motion film made by local teenagers on the theme of ‘1919-2019: 100 years of Mental Health’, which used images from local archives and interviews with former soldiers. It was great to hear how the young people involved made collaborative decisions about the direction of the film, with technical support and encouragement from the Hub. The result was an engaging and moving short that raised awareness of PTSD, as well as highlighting the range and wealth of talents possessed by young people in Chelmsford.

Another of The Ideas Hub’s big projects is the Chelmsford light parade, which brings together creativity and engineering in the form of an illuminated parade through the city. The Ideas Hub works with local schools to create a series of 3D light lanterns, with young people designing and building the structures themselves and even coding patterns of flashing LED lights. We saw images and short video clips from last year’s parade and the atmosphere looked truly magical.

The Ideas Hub are always looking for more people to get involved with local community projects and are also in need of people to help with writing grant applications. For more information visit https://www.ideashubchelmsford.org/

Our second speaker was Frazer Merrick, a Colchester-based artist whose work focuses on sound and playfulness. Frazer was involved in the creation of the recent ‘Drowned World’ installation in Riverside’s swimming pool (read more about that here) however for our event he spoke mainly about his work with the BBC New Creatives program recording the sights and sounds of Walton pier in North Essex. In this playful, experimental project Frazer explored the sounds of the pier through interviews and audio, even recording the electromagnetic fields produced by machines and converting them into sound. Currently Frazer is working with a method to record the sound of light using solar panels – demonstrating how flashing lights can be converted to techno rhythms and beats.

Frazer is also interested in ‘circuit-bending’ – effectively rewiring old keyboards, toys and synthesisers to create new, unusual sounds. Circuit-bending is one of the things that Frazer teaches in workshops with CLIP in Colchester as it invites curiosity, experimentation, and improvisation, all of which are essential to music-making, regardless of perceived ‘musical ability’. Ignite’s attendees then had the chance to play with some of Frazer’s example instruments, inquisitively exploring sound, light and rhythm well into the evening.

While the ongoing effects of Covid-19 mean that Ignite meetups will be changing format slightly but we are eager to continue! Each month we change venue regardless of the weather, some months we have audiences of 10 and others 100 so, in light of our resilience next months meet up will take place via Zoom!

Check out the Facebook page to stay updated! https://www.facebook.com/ignitechelmsford/