Echoes from Essex
an Art/Sci Lockdown Fest
I’ve no idea where the stereotype of Essex Girls comes from – considering the ones we’ve found out about and worked with during our Echoes from Essex project this lockdown summer – we’ve found incredible stories of women in STEAMM from as far back as the 17th century and made some wonderful music along the way.
- Beryl Platt – Baroness Writtle an aeronautical engineer who became Chair of the Equal Opportunities Commission and set up WISE – Women in Science and Engineering – a society which has helped encourage a million women into STEM
- Tina Aparicia, Carol Sydney, Nell Green, Lenore Sykes – Nurses & Midwives some of the Windrush generation who came from the West Indies to support the country’s recovery after the war
- Florence Attridge a working girl at Marconi’s in Chelmsford making secret spy radios during WW2 who got a medal from the King
- Gulielma Lister The Queen of Slime Mould niece of the famous surgeon Joseph Lister – and yes Slime Mould is a beautiful thing with links to the Hubble Telescope
- Ellen Willmott a plant collector and horticulturalist who introduced huge numbers of plants to the UK which can still be seen growing in our gardens today
- Elizabeth Tollet who lived in the Tower of London and communicated Isaac Newton’s science through her poetry
- Margaret Cavendish a Natural Philosopher, who wrote the first science fiction novel (yes she did!)
And that’s not all – these women have counterparts today – inspiring women working in space technology, skin biology, mathematics, ecology, engineering and more – who joined us to make our live SOUNDINGS FROM ESSEX events which went out weekly on Zoom and included music, conversation with the scientists and Dr Patricia Fara (Science Historian who often appears on BBC Radio 4’s In Our Time), and some of Essex’s most talented children who created a MEGASONG.
Did I say music? Imogen Holst, daughter of Gustav Holst (The Planets) has left an impressive legacy with Thaxted and Aldeburgh Festivals and Eliza Flower (1803 – 1846) whose scandalous living arrangement with a Unitarian Minister led to her music being neglected! We commissioned work from Elspeth Manders, a young composer and artist living in Chelmsford and Cheryl Frances-Hoad who is becoming one of this century’s important UK composers, not to mention the numerous new works created by our Artistic Director Frances M Lynch
All this has been going on as part of the ESSEX 2020 STEAMM initiative. We’ve been working with Chelmsford Civic Theatres, local people, businesses, scientists, and councils and with help from an Arts Council England Emergency Response Grant, to deliver workshops and live Zoom performances and rehearsals investigating the past and present.
There’s a ton of resources on this Website for researchers, teachers, audiences, kids, singers, scientists, composers and anyone interested in how on earth Essex Girls could have been stereotyped in such a ridiculous way when they are some of the most creative, inventive, intelligent and successful women in the UK!
The electric voice theatre team on this project
- Frances M Lynch – Soprano, Composer, Researcher, Writer, Artistic Director
- Herbie Clarke – Sound Design, Technical Director
- Dr Patricia Fara – Science Historian
- Lauren Lister – BSL Interpreter
- Alice Privett – Soprano
- Margaret Cameron – Mezzo
- Jenny Miller – Mezzo
- Simone Ibbett-Brown – Mezzo
- David Sheppard – Countertenor
- Julian Stocker – Tenor
- Gwion Thomas – Baritone
- Jack Cornell – Artist
Created by electric voice theatre, Echoes is a Minerva Scientifica project that brings together professional performers with community musicians and school children. Together, we raise awareness of the rich heritage and deep connections between music and science, and inspire the next generation of future scientists.