Getting creative at SohoCreate

Discovering eighty creatives from the worlds of film, food, art, design and theatre to participate in provocative and challenging talks and workshops at SohoCreate 2015 has taken Plinth co-founder and curator Paul Franklyn the best part of a year.  Brilliant to see this inspirational festival come together in chapels, theatres and screening rooms around Soho, from Wednesday 3 until Sunday 7 June.  

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Iconic female chefs Thomasina Miers, Skye Gyngell and Angela Hartnett have all worked in kitchens which are over 50 per cent female, and feel confident this is no longer an issue in London restaurants. Talking about Food, Ethics, Art for SohoCreate, they focused on sourcing food from sustainable and responsible sources; with Skye Gyngell teaming up with organic farm Fern Varrow to supply all the food to her new restaurant ‘Spring’, and Thomasina Miers cooking with seasonal British produce at ‘Wahaca’ rather than relying on importing food from Mexico.

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In a fascinating talk about the importance of taking risks - No Risk, No Future - Russell Norman explained how he ignored the advice of friends and family to open Polpo in London in the depths of recession in 2008, while Conrad Shawcross spoke of the risk of embarking on ambitious artistic projects without quite being sure whether they can actually be realised.  Part of this process for Shawcross has been letting go of the process of making, and starting to work as a director who is able to guide an expert technical team.  For architect Will Alsop, the risk has been to avoid following one defined architectural style and taking a fluid and experimental approach to each individual building.

Mercury prize-winner Speech Debelle silenced the room in a discussion about Finding Voices with Richard Wentworth and Vicky Featherstone, when she described animated mealtimes with her family in Jamaica where the volume would rise throughout the meal.  

“Everyone was talking loudly about everything without discussing what was really happening, as is the way with families.” 

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Richard Wentworth was equally exasperated with his discovery of the phrase, ‘mental health issues,’ feeling that these were universal issues which affect everyone, and that the quirks and foibles of the human condition make the desire to ‘be normal’ almost meaningless.  

Ms Dynamite, Ab Rogers and Cornelia Parker bonded over a shared love of education during their talk on A Creative Education, and the importance of nurturing young, rebellious students to discover an outlet for their creativity, without losing any of their anarchic spirit. 

Putting together such a diverse and varied mix of creatives led to occasionally explosive results and awkward silences, but to experience these talks live was always a thrilling and illuminating experience.