Each month, Nikki Wilson interviews an Ignite Member, asking five simple questions, to find out what creativity means to them, and how they see culture and creativity, and its potential, in Chelmsford.
This month Nikki talks to Sade Fadipe.
How would you describe what you do?
I’m a children’s Book Author, and Primary Curriculum Specialist, working within the international scope. I’m currently learning more about the business of books, taking a Masters degree in Creative Writing and Publishing. In addition, under the mentorship of a London based drama school, I received a Developing Your Creative Practice grant from Arts Council England, for the artist expression of Snowy Joy (a Winter Tale of Refuge), my middle-grade published story.
I also run a yearly event during Black History Month called “Children & Authors’ Literary Fanfare Event”, or CALFE, which started online, during the pandemic.
And who, or what gives you creative inspiration?
I think the “who” might be the key to it. I started writing when I saw a need for indigenous content for the children that I was working with. When I started writing, I was working on a reading project in Nigeria, educating teachers on the use of fiction books and children’s content.
When I did my field work, I realised that most of the texts they were using were foreign to them. Children in a very rural part of Nigeria, were reading books like Goldilocks and the Three Bears and the Three Billy Goats Gruff, and I thought, this is not right, they should be having access to content with children that look like them, within the context that they are familiar with, and that became my inspiration.
So, those children were my inspiration for writing, as much as I also needed my children to learn about parts of what I experienced as a child. So, I like the historical elements, but I’m also motivated by the things that I think would benefit children. I think that comes from my educational background, having been a Primary Teacher… it’ll be 30 years next year since I signed my very first contract as a teacher.
If you could try any new creative or cultural experience or practice, what would it be?
I love the oral storytelling elements. I love when people dress up, create settings and just engage children in words. This is one thing that I learned about Quentin Blake, and his work as well. Words play a major role in the work that he does. Even though he’s seen as an illustrator,I love the way that he uses his lyrics, and makes new words, and the repetition that’s involved in the process as well. So yes, storytelling would be the one thing that I would really love to get into more, which is very different from writing. That is why I applied for the Developing Your Creative Practice grant. As a result, Snowy Joy featured as a festive stage play in London last December, and will be coming to Chelmsford this year. I’d love this to be a yearly festive feature across Essex, starting from Chelmsford.
I’d also certainly love to have CALFE as a yearly feature for children in Chelmsford as Cultural Intelligence is important, and a significant part of what makes us accessible at a global level.
What excites you about creativity and culture in Chelmsford?
I think the intention behind it, so the creative strategy and the intention to make changes. I was at a wonderful Ignite meeting last Saturday in which we just came together and talked about what’s going on in other parts of the country, and how the creative community within those counties is portrayed, and we came up with so many ideas of what Chelmsford could look like.
While we were putting these ideas together, it was so visual that we felt so committed to make a change and just make ourselves known, make people aware that we have creativity in Chelmsford. The number one word that came out during the meeting was that desire for visibility. I’m excited about that. So, anyone can get off the train, walk into Chelmsford – and from the vision that we have – start to find out about the creative people that live within the area. I think that would be an amazing asset to the Chelmsford community.
What would you like to see in Chelmsford that isn’t here yet?
So, just stepping out of Chelmsford train station, what do you see? If someone got off the train, accidentally came upstairs and stepped out of the train station, what would they see that would make them want to come back to Chelmsford? Based on the amount of creativity we have here, I would love for some level of vibrance, to draw people into our community.