Aug 22, 2011

Duncan Holmes on the Olympic Park

Building blocks at Folly for a Flyover
 Duncan Holmes is at no. 9 in the Trail guide, exhibiting photographs and drawings of the American Midwest. He is blogging for E17 Art Trail in the lead-up to his exhibition. See his previous entries here and here. This week, he discusses how the Olympic Park is changing E17.
I have absolutely no interest in sport so from that point of view the Olympics is not something to get excited about. The massive infrastructure of the Olympic Park is another matter though. On the one hand, it's good to see the dire wasteland transformed with some cutting-edge architecture and imaginative landscaping. I visited the site in June (see my blog entry here), and came away impressed with some of the buildings, less so with others. The View Tube cafe is a regular destination for cycling trips down the canal from Walthamstow. It's encouraging to see the way some of the industrial debris has been imaginatively incorporated into the Greenway landscaping, rather than simply clearing it out of the way. The recent Folly for a Flyover cinema under the A12 flyover built out of scaffolding and recycled timber blocks was quite amazing, although sadly only temporary.
Touch-me-not growing wild on the River Lea
On the other hand, I'm a little sorry to see some of the wildness of the area lost. How many people remember the open fields at Temple Mill Lane, with horses and a collection of rusty red telephone boxes, more like Essex than London. Some of the electricity pylons, which I especially love, were taken down  - but not, as rumoured, to tidy up the area, but to overcome the logistical impossibility of constructing tall buildings with high-voltage lines overhead. Then there's the River Lea running parallel to the canal, and still pleasingly wild, with a riverside dirt path overgrown with nettles and touch-me-not, but I wonder how long it will stay that way.
It might have been good to incorporate some of those thoughts into my show this year but I've had no time to do enough new work. Just trawling through nine years worth of photographs and notebooks is as much as I can fit in, so the focus is several thousand miles away from Waltham Forest.

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