Culture and heritage

Signals and megaphones for creative young people

11 August 2022

A meet-up for young artists led Aïsha to Signal six years ago. Now it’s her job to bring young artists together and amplify their ideas.

When poet and zinester Aïsha Trambas joined a series of artist gatherings at Signal in 2016, she met like-minded artists who became an important part of her world.

She also realised that a career in the arts could become a reality. Now Aïsha is on the team at Signal as a creative producer.

‘It’s a sweet full-circle moment. Looking back, those events were life-changing, although I didn’t realise the extent of it at the time. I met people who are still important in my life,’ Aïsha said.

The program, hosted by Black African artist collective Still Nomads and offered by Signal, brought together young creatives of African heritage to discuss art and literature.

‘We’d get together to talk about art and life. It was an expansive time for me where I started to see the possibility of doing art and arts work more seriously,’ Aïsha said.

Now Aïsha has circled back to work at this creative studio on the north bank of the Yarra River – Birrarung.

‘There’s no shortage of young people doing amazing creative work in this city. Signal can support emerging artists to expand their reach and craft. It’s like a megaphone. It’s an opportunity to be upskilled and amplified.’

An old building illuminated with artwork

Find Signal on Northbank, Flinders Walk

Aïsha fosters and inspires creative 14 to 25-year-olds, connecting them with professional artists. She curates a program of workshops and mentoring opportunities for emerging and established artists who are keen to explore, create and present their art both online and in real life.

Opportunities abound, and all are free of cost. Artists might get involved through the annual Signal summer holiday program, or be invited to events with a clued-in friend.

Many people’s first experience is through Signal’s weekly Saturday workshops, providing space to connect with peers via a constantly rotating offering of artforms, from ceramics to comics, millinery, printmaking and much more.

And creative producers such as Aïsha are at the ready: building relationships, creating opportunities, encouraging artists to come back, try a new workshop, get involved in the next opportunity. Take the next step.

‘It’s a great feeling being able to get to know artists through their interests and talents, to be able to play a part in connecting people to stepping-stones on their creative journey.’

Some young people are exploring art as a hobby, for others art is a committed vocation, and many people are somewhere in between.

‘It’s really relatable, seeing the lights go on for other young people: realising that there are clear and tangible ways that they can take their art to the next level. Maybe they didn’t even expect it for themselves,’ Aïsha said.

The studio is kitted out with all imaginable arts materials to encourage newcomers to dip into different mediums. It acts as a valuable resource for those with concepts ready to be realised.

Dressmaker’s dummies await drapery. Boxes of sequined fabric beckon. Drying racks stand ready to cradle inspiration. Cupboards are stacked with paint and paper. There’s a stereo. Art books. Tables to spread out on and meet up at and talk across.

The venue opens doors to a creative life for to young people.

Programs such as the Signal Young Creatives Lab supports young artists to realise new projects through an expressions-of-interest process every year.

The Signal Curators group meets monthly to come up with new project ideas as a group. Both programs offer resources to bring ideas to into the world.

Artists work both individually and collaboratively to produce outcomes across music, dance, theatre, publication, or even event curation.

In the riverside plaza outside the 130-year-old building on Flinders Walk, an immersive soundwalk invites artists to invent soundscapes for the multichannel speaker system.

Signal’s Screen and Sound Commissions program encourages audio artists to team up with visual creatives who are designing works for the giant screens.

The effect of such sound and screen works is to illuminate the night and inspire passers-by to slow down and surrender to the moment.

Check out what’s on at Signal to discover a year-round program of free, creative workshops for people aged 14 to 25.

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