Sep 5, 2009

Day One

Got up feeling as one generally does after an Art Trail launch party......... knowing that I was not the only one in E17 feeling like this didn't help....

First thing on the agenda was Vestry House Museum to put a cover on one of my suitcases. It was a suitcase full of all the inks, paints, pigments and brushes that I used before my recent metamorphosis into an installation artist. Apparently it was too risky to leave these materials accessible because the yoof of today may: a) use the materials to deface property and/or b) eat/drink the materials and potentially die.

This is a major shift in the two years I have been away ..... can it be true that the younger generation have now all become vandals or imbeciles and are no longer accompanied by responsible adults... ever? Anyway.... I sealed all those lovely tactile materials safely behind a piece of clear plastic.

It was good to be in the garden because there was a lot of nice feedback about the installation and about the Trail in general. Also people were very happy to donate items to the (now less) empty suitcase which I will write about at the end of the Trail.

At 2.00 the first walking tour got under way so I tagged along for some of it with a camera and a notebook. First up was Annalisa Lopez's lamppost installation Tales of a Sullen Keyboard. It is actually easy to overlook this because at first glance it just seems like a trashed keyboard leaning on a lamppost. However, look again and it isn't leaning but climbing... the separate keys have detached themselves and are making a break for it up the lamppost. For Annalisa the installation creates a dialogue between nature and technology and several of the crowd agreed. One woman liked the way that the technology was humanised and made more comforting to technophobes. The classic comment 'well it's not watercolours' was also noted as was the suggestion that the keyboard could be prosecuted for vandalising the Village lamppost.

Can dog owners be prosecuted for vandalising Village pavements? Evidence of this kind of vandalism was noted several times enroute. This caused particular irritation to park keeper and organiser of the 'Walk Yourself Fit' campaign, which is involved with the Trail for the first time this year. The dog owners in the park she keeps just wouldn't get away with it!

The next stop on the walk was Enigma by Owen Bullit and this just looked great. Two big sculptures, one made of shiny polished metal and the other made of wood with a third sculpture of an over sized bench sitting imposingly in a corner nearby. You don't expect to see something like this as you enter a large suburban garden with a beautifully mowed lawn! It takes a moment to adjust. You are suddenly not quite sure where you are anymore.

I asked somebody wearing very dark shades who did not want to be asked, what he thought about the sculpture. He replied 'It's close to a pub'. I avoided asking for opinions after that....

Next stop was Stephen Kenny's letterpress studio, a Two Pipe Problem. This was featured earlier in this blog but it was good to actually see the letterpress in situ. Stephen started this as a hobby but it is now becoming a full time job so it was interesting to see how the operation was set up in the house. Being a music junkie I was also delighted to see a large vinyl collection....

The group of people on the walk were a mix of E17ers and people from outside the borough. One woman had seen the Trail advertised in Time Out and had come all the way from Crystal Palace..... OK .... so Crystal Palace isn't really that far but Sarf'' London can seem like another planet if you are relying on weekend public transport.

The next stop was Jenny Dawes and Brian Daubney. They both work, or have worked with a variety of mediums so paintings, prints, photos and clay sculptures grab your attention as you walk through their house. However, it is only when you go right through the house and get to the garden that your jaw hits the floor. It is amazing what people can fit into a small back garden. In this case it is one large wooden studio in the middle, and another dedicated print studio at the end. A very nice mix of work both in the house and sitting in the studio itself along with Brian Daubney who was on hand to talk about the work.

A nice thing about the Trail is that you get to walk down streets you would never normally see and occasionally there will be a house that really stands out. There were a couple of neglected houses that were decayed or decaying in very visually interesting ways. By way of contrast we had the house of Danny Coope, another artist who featured on the blog before the Trail. He has assembled 2 montages of photographs either side of his front gate. The whole thing faces the road and looks pretty amazing.

At this stage of the walk I am starting to flag. The late night is catching up with me and all I can think about is Snickers bars. So the next two stops were difficult. I did have an interesting chat with a walker who was born in the UK but had grown up in the US. He has been living in E17 with his American wife and family for two years and this was the first walk they had done on the Trail. They said it was a great way to connect with the area but was also an opportunity to get an insight into the real lives of people.

Although there seemed to be a lot going at the Hornbeam Centre, it didn't quite gel for me. The cafe was too busy to really see the photos properly (unless you were sitting there over a leisurely coffee of course) and I wasn't really sure what was going on upstairs. That said I loved the red wool wrapped around the banisters, on the wall and over the window. Round the corner at Eklekticos in the FRP there were a couple of interesting things but I think there is lot more potential in both of these venues which has yet to be explored.

Pictorem always has lots to look at year round but at Art Trail time it usually showcases a handful or artists or projects. This year it is Veronica Lindsay Addy's huge 5 part painting that makes the most impact but I really liked the coloured, glittery collage faces exhibited from MENCAP.


That was it for me...,, the walk went on to at least two other venues but I headed back to Vestry House to pick up my bike and check that there had been no suitcase disasters. On the way I just popped in to say hello to Shirley Pountney. As usual she was showing a full and diverse range of work. There is a new series of bright and boldly physical landscapes, intricately textured and decorated handmade paper works, some sublime ink pieces and a whole new range of hand knitted scarves, shawls and a single unique throw. This was apparently so much trouble to make she's never going to do one again! Also as usual during the Art Trail, her little gallery was packed with people and she seemed to be selling pretty well too.

I actually saw loads of people walking around with maps today and according to Gary Heales at Vestry House, the museum received over 300 visitors which is a new record for Day One of the E17 Art Trail.

12 comments:

Paul Robinson said...

Nobody came to our exhibition today. Number 1 had no one!

Anna - Lucie Feracci said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Valerie Grove said...

Sorry to hear that Paul. Will cycle over later today.

Anna said :
"What is your aim here : promoting the Trail/ promoting yourself / sharing your opinions on other people's work ?"

... I guess it's all of the above to an extent ... but the most important aim of the blog is to encourage interaction about the Trail. So thank you for such honest feedback!

Claire Bithell said...

We were at the library yesterday making postcards with members of the public for our exhibition. We were really impressed with the response, so many people wanted to get involved. We had about thirty or forty people do postcards over the day - you can see the results at the Art for Amnesty in the reception area of Walthamstow library. We will be back there today, so hope to get a good response again.

Looking forward to getting out and seeing the rest of the trail next weekend.

jackie whalen said...

firstly i just want to say that the launch party was fantastic, so lovely to meet people & feel such a great sense of community in walthamstow.
dragged my hubby & two kids round as much as their little legs could take in one weekend (not to mention my sore head after the party)! and i was so impressed with the standard of peoples work. in particular i loved some of the diverse photgraphy of the photographic society in 'stow library. also love valerie grove's baggage claim which kept us all busy for ages. but so far my absolute favourite is light. puntuation, dwelling... the neon texts at beautiful interiors. i love, love, love it, wild, kitsch, mesmerising and fun. i want one!
anyway, looking forward to seeing lots, lots more.

Maria Saur said...

NO 61 had thousands of visitors on day one and 2, or so it felt - so I am utterly exhausted and happy - thanks for coming and the great appreciation of my work ! Thanks to Christine Williams at the Modern College of Music and Drama for hosting the show in such a beautiful environment full of E17 's artistic history !!

Valerie how about the photo of the Garden behind the stage?

Best

Maria Saur

Anonymous said...

Great work on the blog ! Your honest opinion
and feelings about the whole experience is an enjoyable
read.
Capturing the view point as a visitor and narrator.
Well done!

Valerie Grove said...

Thanks you all for your comments.... I will try and post daily until the end of the Trail about things I see. If ANYONE would like to submit their own review of anything just email it to me and I will post it onto the blog... also there is a Flickr public access photostream for the Trail (link on the left of blog) which anyone can post to.

Julian Beere said...

Hello Valerie, as one of the participating artists at The Hornbeam/FRP I do not feel enthused by your review, nor do I think you have adequately explored that community venue to make the comments or representation you have.
I agree The Hornbeam and FRP need more exploration however this would always be the case - as asking how participation, interaction and representation can be developed is a primary aim.
There were substantial exhibits in the cafe, and on all floors of the Hornbeam. There was the Saturday Organic/Locally grown food stall and it's related projects - the latter prominently advertised in the cafe. In FRP there was an exhibition of art by Think Arts, as well as between 11am and 2.30pm a free kite making workshop (which was attended). Forest Recycling Projects activities are numerous and reach into the community in many ways - which I believe deserve more than the hung over(?) recognition you have expressed. I don't see how your review serves to build on this collaboration. I would be grateful for a bit more insight or exploration on your part.
Kind regards, Julian Beere.

Valerie Grove said...

Realising how seriously I have pissed you all off, I will now definitely pay another (less exhausted) visit before the end of the week but dont suppose there's any chance of a free coffee now is there?

Thanks for all the info above Julian... you responded about all the things you were up to before the Trail too which was very much appreciated

Dubai Nikolai said...

I went to the FRC and was immensely impressed by Clive and Andrez's work, among others, and can't wait until what I would dub "Pimp My Bath" is available for a viewing. (FRC also have some very good value books piled up inside at 20p a time). I thought the work upstairs in the Hornbeam were pretty uninspiring. Names carved in soap to indicate the passing of time, and a bath full of sand with some plastic creatures in and along side..hmmm. Check out the photos of the pimped up bath in FRC for a more interesting use of domestic detritus

Christina Sibley said...

I enjoyed the Vestry House opening night very much, and thought the work was a great deal more invigorating, exciting and spontaneous than last year. Next, I peered into Shirley Pountney's window and thought the work was excellent (Shirley was shut that evening and I didn't want to disturb her!).

The number of items in the brochure go to show how much the trail has expanded. The amount of organisation, work and dedication to the project really shows.

This event must definitely continue and I hope even more sponsors can be found. Hopefully I will visit more venues this week: in actual fact, I think the art trail needs to be 10-14 days long.