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 Sarah Hammond.
How would you describe what you do?
Predominantly I’m a graphic designer, working in branding and print, but my love is illustration, with lino print, etching, watercolour & Letterpress. Having been a graphic designer working in industry and for myself for over 20 years I’ve got to a point where actually, I want to go back to where it all started, like when I was at college, and get more involved with print and illustration. At the moment, I’m really loving watercolour. When Jennifer [Flint] asked me to produce a poster for the Art Trail for the Carnival, I was like, “Yes, this is, this is something I’m gonna do, I’m gonna do something that is watercolour based, experiment with that, and have some fun”.
But interestingly, having done that, and spoken to a few people about it, I’m now doing some illustrations for another project and then on the back of that one, potentially another. So this week has escalated, which is just incredible.
And who, or what gives you creative inspiration?
I think it’s interesting because nowadays there are so many opportunities to find your inspiration. So I love Pinterest, Instagram, social media helps, looking at what other people are doing. I enjoy going to networking meets, particularly The Hook, the Ignite meetings, the Creative Collective and Drink and Draw. It’s lovely seeing what other people are doing and just getting that buzz from them inspires you.
The traditional routes, going to galleries I love the V&A and going to the Tate, the Design Museum, so I try to get to some exhibitions when I can. But I also enjoy long distance running. I love running through the fields and sometimes that’s where I get some ideas. In recent times on my runs I’ve documented them by taking photographs. I have this whole array of photographs documented alongside my runs. Before Christmas, I created an illustration that was based on one of these runs and it’s now given me the idea for another project that I want to go forward with. Inspiration comes from a variety of spaces, but I think when I’m out running, I get that headspace. Sometimes I just don’t think of anything but then it just gives me that time to start thinking and seeing things. I might even be running with someone else and then you can really bash out your ideas.
If you could try any new creative or cultural experience or practice, what would it be?
Having been to the Ignite meeting that was hosted by Brave Arts, I think I’d love to have a go at some street art, a big, big mural. Years ago when I was doing my A levels and going into my Foundation Art course I painted a few murals on people’s walls in their homes and I also got involved with some very large scale painting for some productions at school in Sixth Form. I loved just the vastness of it. So I think I’d be scared of the paint can but at the same time, I’d love to have a go and just make a mess and see what happens.
I’ve loved watching what’s going on with Concrete Canvas. I took my son last year, and we had a wander around to look at everything and it was just phenomenal. Seeing all the posters come up for this year’s, it was like “Maybe next year I can do it, even if it’s a small piece, just have a go, get out of that comfort zone”.
What excites you about creativity and culture in Chelmsford?
Pre COVID, I didn’t know much about what was going on. It wasn’t until I met Jennifer Flint that I started to hear about these different groups. So, going back to Concrete Canvas, and with the Art Trail coming up, being part of those things and finding there’s a creative community and opportunities to get involved with more things, that’s exciting. I’m so used to going in and out of London, or maybe to Cambridge for different things, but to find them building up here locally now that everything’s back up and running is really good.
What would you like to see in Chelmsford that isn’t here yet?
I know we’ve got the Art Place, but during the daytime, I can’t attend a lot of the classes and workshops. I’d like to see something central where you could get more evening classes or one day weekend workshops, possibly with a typography, graphic design base, Letterpress. Maybe there’s a way to link in with the Museum? I know Chelmsford has a lot of history with radio, but was there any print emphasis like London and some other cities? I’m in touch with a friend who works in Cambridge who has access to a technology museum and they’ve got a whole array of printing presses. Is there anything like that in Chelmsford? It would be lovely to have something like that.
We don’t really have an Art Gallery or a centre like Firstsite. That would be absolutely amazing. We’ve got some wonderful buildings in Chelmsford but are they being used to their full potential? A lot of buildings have just got offices in them. There’s probably a lot of regeneration that needs to happen because unfortunately during the COVID years, community places have closed down, but then there’s also that issue of money isn’t there? Everything’s so expensive at that moment, can it be done? I suppose it’s kind of building on what’s already there and expanding on that.