Sep 16, 2010

The view from two wheels...


Hi once and future trail blazers, greetings from Waltham Forest Cyclists. And a big thanks!

We’ve run a few rides at this year’s Art Trail and much as we aimed to accommodate the Art Trail, it looks like the Art Trail accommodated us more.

You know how it is. You cycle around and all you see is potholes and rubbish and arrogant drivers. Walthamstow. Just get me to the Marshes, where I can pretend I’m not in an urban sprawl. Or somewhere across town where the Sun sets. Or just in front of the telly watching Glee.

Except that we’re campaigners. We’re trying to stay on the positive side of the road. Retch out an Oxford Dictionary of swear words next time a bully’s driving up your saddle in a one-way street? Noooo, we smug up, slap a grin on, and sermonize the simpleton. Then the simpleton slinks off, we cycle away, and we’re back to square one.

Art Trail comes along.

Kindly we offer to run some rides: a big ride on Saturday, and small rides on weekday evenings – for homecoming cycling commuters. I say, we say to ourselves, if that’s not a chance for new cycling blood.

A curious thing happens. A small crowd comes along to our ride and we’re all happy in our saddles, pedalling to see art. We knock on doors. We’re let inside. We chat with Jason Hawkridge and Steve Smith and Elly Davies. We watch Gnasher deface concrete, we see Debbie Naylor’s naked husband and Jasper Startup’s blissful quirks. We pedal some more. Drink Spike Gascoigne’s wine, pedal some more. Eat Jesse Richards’s cake, pedal some more. Suddenly we’re somewhere else. Like we’re transported.

Suddenly we’re in Walthamstow.

I’m serious, suddenly we are in Walthamstow.

You see, all of these people, and more, opened their doors for us. They welcomed us.

You see, there are no potholes or rubbish or arrogant drivers on the way.

We are cycling between affirmations of intelligence and sensitivity; manifestations of beauty and humour; eruptions of charity and openness.

So thank you, Art Trail. I hope the glow will last. After that – until next year.

On Saturday we met at 1pm in Selbourne Walk.

The rich colours and sensual curves and shadow-play of Brazilian Flowers set in the heat of Latin America evoked the jungle, but Jason Hawkridge seemed to be ready for a party at Rio. The Yard, High Street.

Sammy Elwardany’s Still Lives were delicate and understated – except for an expressionistic cityscape with a statistical curve ominously piercing right through it. Bromley Road.

Steve Smith opened his house especially for us, and even provided a yard in which to park the bikes. His travel photographs were evocative, and in shape, colour, texture, and arrangement of elements, his ceramic sculptures were truly remarkable. Theydon Street.

Teenagers at the Outset Centre adorned the street with flags and signs and banners. We met artist and Art Trail co-organizer Morag Mcguire and youth worker Norman Saggers – both cyclists – hard at work at the centre. Grange Road / Frederic Street.

Five young artists created a magical, vibrant space in a studio in Lynmouth Street, with their exhibition Mud for the Juicer.  

Baptists of Blackhorse Road took us over the rainbow to a land where Noah lives with all his animals.

Wendy MacMillan’s conceptual installations asked us to consider philosophical and political questions. Northcote Road.

Waltham Forest Disability Resource Centre became a terrific resource of information on the famous Walthamstow Warner houses and Mr Warner himself. Warner Road.

Fellow cyclist Duncan Holmes showed us some sixty photographs in which he peeps at and portrays our East London humdrum, turning it into little icons of time stopped in its tracks. Clifton Avenue.

Treea Cracknell’s front garden tree grew photos of exotic flowers. Farnborough Avenue

By now we were pretty exhausted. We would have loved to buy ice cream from an ice-cream trike, but a van had to do.

Gnasher hard at work. Lloyd Park

Charlie Hall’s Icarus, a swan song for the Lloyd Park aviary.

And we were treated to a melon picnic at the Keeping Abreast tent. Debbie, one of the artists, told us stories of women with breast cancer which accompanied the artworks. Lloyd Park.

Deborah Naylor presented us with My Naked Husband and Other Nudes in watercolour and ink. Marten Road

Colourful paper animals adorned the drive and the Whitefield School’s gate. MacDonald Road.

Jesse Richards illustrated his house with a collection of comic cut-outs and cartoon-like landscapes of Walthamstow. Turner Road.

Alice Mara printed ceramics with ingenious pictures. Aubrey Road.

Every inch of Elly Davies’s house was occupied by her paintings, ranging from naturalistic flowers to expressionistic landscapes. Lloyd Road.

 Carol Zilla let us inside the Inky Cuttlefish studio and showed us her silver jewellery. Blackhorse Lane.

A house front turned into a Mantle Piece.
Grosvenor Park Road

 Paul Greenleaf and Robert Moye presented us their work, part of the photographic Walthamstow Tapestry. Paul presented a series of photographs saturated a la 1970s postcards, whilst Robert presented pictures of missing-pet reward ads. Selbourne Road.

Virginia Cucchi presented an exhibition about three Patagonians brought to Walthamstow in 1830. Aside from historical information she also presented artworks inspired by the event. Mersey Road. 

Several families got together and displayed their children’s works on the front hedges. Elphinstone Road

Roger Huddle presented a small selection of his printworks in a new printshop in Mitre Avenue, Greenleaf Road.

Downstairs, Matt McKenzie showed off his beautiful 1959 printing press. Mitre Avenue, Greenleaf Road.

At the Rose and Crown in Hoe Street where we had to take medicinal liquids before we could engage with its number of exhibitons. Hoe Street

 All Text and photos MA Schmidt

Sep 14, 2010

End of the Trail 2010 ...

The 2010 E17 Art Trail ended on Sunday 12th and I actually managed to get out for the last day!! I really missed it this year especially after the total and very enjoyable immersion I managed for the blog last year. I missed being so immersed in that sense of community as well. It is so strong when you get out there and start walking around the Trail. Although I only had two days on the Trail this year I was constantly reminded that I am part of this community as I bumped into somebody I knew at every venue I went to.

Last year the Arts Council Commission money enabled me to chronicle the Trail so comprehensively but this year the blog relied on you! So a VERY BIG THANK YOU to everyone who sent in reviews, diaries, photos and comments. If anyone else still has pictures, reviews, articles or just thoughts about your experience of the Trail, whether as a participant or visitor, please keep sending them in and I will post them up.

Hopefully, in 2011 there will be funding available for someone else to take over the blog, dedicate the time and do their own thing with it. Interested??

Let me know!