Working with the ideas of nature and sustainability, YAK commissioned local artists Daniel & Clara, Wyrd Flora and CLIP to host participatory performances and workshops throughout the day.

CLIP, an experimental youth music organisation, lead workshops making fantastic, organic compositions with homemade vegetable instruments.

Herbal artist Wyrd Flora led foraging walks around the town centre, and presented a beautiful array of artworks made from vegetable inks.

Responding to the psychological impact of the global pandemic and the physical restrictions of lockdown, visual artist duo Daniel & Clara created On The Island, a series of 100 short videos initially shared through Instagram depicting in the landscapes of Mersea Island, Essex, where they’ve been living since March 2020. Daniel & Clara gave a talk about their work, and led a guided walk through the town centre responding to the themes of their artistic practice.

Alongside these works the young curators displayed an archive of recent works made in YAK sessions by the team themselves.

Curation: Alix, Alicia, Anusha, Asmi, Bill, Chloe, Freya, Lavina, Lydia, Mae, Ria, Scarlet, Willa, Zach.

Concept and direction: Hanna Gillgren and Heidi Rustgaard – H2DANCE

Associate artist:  Steve Goatman

Contributing commissioned artists: Daniel & Clara, Wyrd Flora, CLIP

Producer from Firstsite:  Beth Hull

Producer from H2DANCE:  Michael Kitchen and Natalie Richardson / Konzept Arts and Ideas

Produced in collaboration with Firstsite

Funded by:  Arts Council England, METAL Peterborough, Cambridge Junction, Firstsite Colchester.

The following blog has been written by some of the YAK members involved in the planning and delivery of the Home Grown event.


‘Home Grown’ was a collaboration between Fest en Fest and YAK.  YAK (Young Artist Kommunity) is a creative club run by Firstsite.  It gives young people the opportunity to create their own artwork as well as collaborate with artists to make larger scale projects.

The festival was planned by YAK with input from Steve Goatman (co-producer of Colchester Fringe) and Fest en Fest. The festival was held in the same space as Culver Square’s eco-festival, which heavily influenced the theme of nature in Home Grown.

We were given a budget which allowed us to commission three artists who could work within this theme.  We chose (YAK’s frequent collaborator) Wyrd Flora, Daniel & Clara, and Firstsite’s experimental music club, CLiP.

Wyrd Flora led a foraging walk in Colchester, in which members of the public could learn the uses of everyday plants as well as the folklore surrounding them.  After the walk, they provided food and drink made from foraged goods.  They also provided paints and inks made from foraged goods which you could paint with.

CLiP provided instruments made out of vegetables for a ‘vegetable jam’.  Members of the public were able to play the piano using green beans and experiment with sound.

Daniel & Clara screened their work (On the Island short films) and then gave a talk about their work.  They then hosted a meditative walk, similar to their films and their interest in nature and natural surroundings which is inspired by lockdown, during which they explored Mersea Island.


We wanted people to feel welcome and invited so we created origami roses made from old magazines to hand out. It was strange instigating conversation with strangers only to gift them paper roses and invite them to the festival, but it was worth it to see their look of surprise and joy. It made me realise how conservative we are as a community and how far a little kindness can go. We also used our origami talents in the making of a Wish Tree.

After many laborious hours of paper maché and twig balancing, we bought to the festival a small installation where people could write anything they wanted on paper and then fold them into stars to hang on the tree. By the end of the day, it was covered in wishes and dreams; sketches and secrets, hidden from the world.

It was amazing seeing that no matter what people believed in terms of magic, they were still prepared to make a wish, just in case. Overall, however, learning to interact and help strangers as if I knew them for centuries, learning about their days, and bonding over complicated star making, was an experience I never want to forget.

For me, there were so many enjoyable aspects of Home Grown Festival.  As well as the planning and preparation, being involved with other artists was really rewarding.

One of these was going on a foraging walk, led by Lora and Marley from Wyrd Flora. From tasting pine needles to learning the history of common weeds, this experience showed me the beauty and reliance that we have on the plants that we pass every day.

This foraging walk around Colchester really opened my eyes to how dependant we have become on other items, yet you can create ink from oak galls, and use pine resin as a natural chewing gum!

Working with Lora and Marley in the past, it was really nice to reconnect with them so we could share our new ideas from the past year.

At the end of the walk, we were treated with iced tea, pakoras and biscuits made form foraged foods.

This really inspired me, as well as others of the foods available, quite literally on our doorstep!

YAK put together a film about the event. Click below to watch.

Filming and photography by Marley Spindler, Frankie Shaftain-Fenner and Scarlet.