Welcome to Goldsmiths Alchemy!

What is Alchemy? We asked members of the Alchemy community – Alchemy Artists and Masters, Mentors, Youth Workers, Community Partners, School Teachers  and Academics to tell us. Alchemy Is… Magic; Good Morning; Meaningful, Authentic Exchange; Family; A Second Home; Process; Union… and more. The digital version of the book is downloadable here, also available with the free download of the Alchemy Is… Mixtape. Hardcopies of the book are available on request (E-mail m.kirkpatrick@gold.ac.uk).

Watch the short documentary about Alchemy and our collaboration with Unit 137 and Sound System Outernational  by Oliver Cheetham here:

Find us on instagram here: @goldsmithsalchemy

Founded in 2017, Goldsmiths Alchemy is a weekly Saturday Workshop at Goldsmiths University that offers free access to music rehearsal and recording space, professional music training and youth work support to 13-18-year-olds in the Borough of Lewisham. We operate an anti-oppressive and collaborative education model.

At Alchemy we are committed to working with young people that society is at-risk of losing, such as those struggling with the school system for any reason at all, school / education refusers, those using challenging behaviour as a way to express themselves or those feeling unmotivated, alienated or low in self-esteem.

Alchemy offers a safe space physically and emotionally, a place to make new friends, build confidence and develop musical creativities which we have seen to be useful for a wide range of life skills such as listening, collaborating and problem-solving. It is also a great way to find a language to express emotions and talk about difficult subjects. We maintain communication with schools and parents, making sure that the support we offer is in line with other support in place, aiming to nurture a positive relationship with education and the future.

The three main outcomes for Alchemy participants when they join are:

  1. Participants have a good time, learn lots of new transferable skills, build confidence and develop some music skills that bring joy and help with other aspects of life which they can carry on to whatever further education or career path they choose.
  2. Participants have found a passion for creativity (composing, performance, music production, spoken word, film making, sound engineering etc) and we support them in their pathway into relevant work, further education or employment possibilities (such as Kieron Morris and his youth-led record label Rezon8).
  3. Participants are natural mentors themselves, helping and supporting their peers. Thanks to the Vernon Ellis Foundation, in 2023 we launched our Alchemy Masters scheme where 6 long-term participants over the age of 18 are receiving paid training and employment as artist educators.

Alchemy is also a proud member of the Goldsmiths CCA Residents Programme.

Workshops we offer:

Songwriting, singing, music production (recording, mixing and mastering), improvisation, instrumental lessons, music theory, podcasting, band and ensemble playing, DJing, performance techniques, stagecraft, lyric writing and spoken word. There is plenty of open space for creating and collaborating and developing new material using professional equipment. We also offer youth work mentoring and support with applying to colleges and universities.

Get involved

We accept referrals from schools, parents, PRUs and peers. We are interested to hear from organisations and individuals who are interested in working with us. We can also give performances, workshops, lectures and consultations.

Please contact Mikey Kirkpatrick via m.kirkpatrick@gold.ac.uk.  

Participant Testimonies:

What did you enjoy about Alchemy?

  • “Having freedom to make anything I wanted”
  • “Coming together as a group and performing music”
  • “I improved my guitar skills”
  • “I could express myself without being judged”
  • “It feels like one big family”
  • “You get to meet new people”
  • “I enjoyed the community ,and getting together to perform at events”
  • “I also liked… when I show my music to people like Mikey or Tomaš, they offer me [suggestions for] improvement on my music… this is something that helped me out on improving myself”
  • “I enjoy coming and collaborating with other people”
  • “I enjoy singing and performing… and voice training”
  • “I like how the environment here at Alchemy is nothing like school, it’s more like a family, and it’s comfortable”.
  • “I enjoyed the singing, the piano, I enjoyed the piano most, and people here are so nice to me”.

What did you especially enjoy?

  • “When we all worked together to make songs”
  • “The first performance we did was really fun and… I was really happy and felt really proud… I’ve learnt quite a lot here”
  • “That performance in that shop [NX Records takeover]… that was good because everyone in that area came to see what we were doing… more people are starting to come to more events now… more people are coming to view what we create”.
  • “I enjoyed the first time we performed because I had never performed live before so it was nice to be given the opportunity…”

What skills did you develop at Alchemy

  • “I improved my guitar skills, I improved my saxophone skills, and I learnt how to DJ”.
  • “Piano, guitar, ukulele, and my singing skills”
  • “Different skills… like changing the way that I write, cos I used to just write for fun when I was bored but now… the type of beats that I use has expanded”
  • “My confidence skills… every time I do a performance my confidence improves”
  • “My vocal skills have improved, and during a performance as well, I’ve learnt those sort of skills”.
  • “Communication, confidence and team working skills”
  • “I got better at mixing my projects”
  • “Confidence skills… because I know most times I’m not confident at all… but some people here like you (Lead Youth Worker Lara, doing the interview) helped me out with being confident”.
  • “Being able to perform… compared to last year when I thought I could never write lyrics or perform”
  • “Being able to record myself in the studio”

What could be changed to make Alchemy better?

  • “Everything’s so perfect”
  • “Having more workshops like the vocal workshops, or like how to mix and master and stuff like that”
  • “I don’t think Alchemy needs to be changed, it helps all people”

Would you recommend Alchemy?

  • “Yes! If you’re interested in music… Hell yes! It’s not a negotiation! You’re going… you’re going OK! If the spots open, it’s not negotiable, you’re going, OK!”
  • “Yes, because it’s very cool and you learn and are happy… I’d recommend it to other kids my age like 14-16 years old”.
  • “Yeah, especially to young artists that don’t have anywhere to record or show the talent that they have… cos some people don’t have a space to learn how to become a better artist or use instruments and stuff like that”.

Joshua, Alchemy participant since 2018 (now an Alchemy Master)

It’s not just a project it’s a place for young people to come and express whatever they feel freely without prejudice, whether that emoting being grief, anger, happiness and so on.

As someone who apart of the project since I was in year 8 this meant a whole lot to me in terms of creativity and finding a sense of purpose. Lockdown put a halt to that but they still managed to find a way to make it work and even held live shows over team meetings. I’m now in my final year of college going into uni and I’m still going as a regular to work on my own craft further and experiment new things. Alchemy has been somewhere where I can go with my friends and make whatever I want and express whatever I want, and again not just for me it’s also been an incredible hub for young people to come and seek help from people who have experienced what they have experienced and find ways to help them improve. There isn’t a whole ton of projects that do it as professionally and as successfully as Alchemy, as well as casually. This project means so much for local youths as well as bringing in more and more interest for people to do music.

Moziah, Alchemy participant since 2018 (now an Alchemy Master)

Alchemy is a way to express yourself in a creative environment, surrounding by artists, producers, singers, poets, pianists, guitarist the lot. Every Saturday I go to Alchemy with a song or two in my head, I go into the studio play some beats and then I just do my thing. I could be rapping, I could be singing I can be doing anything really. I just go record and let it all out in a satisfying way and that’s done by me making songs. I can share those songs by going up on stages and perform at shows, It’s great experience. This is how I’ve been able to mature as a person and better myself mentally and creatively. I keep going Alchemy because it’s an escape from every day life you know? like stress, anxiety, depression, relationships, it’s truly wholesome.