Sep 6, 2011

Ms Wanda's Wanders

Esther Freeman of Ms. Wanda's Wardrobe fame takes a trip up Blackhorse Road and the surrounding area...

Residents around Blackhorse Road tube station have greeted the arrival of the Torsaka Gallery like the Second Coming. Based on Forest Road, usually the preserve of fried chicken shops and car mechanics, the arrival of the gallery is like a little ray of sunshine. And despite there being a distinct lack of said sunshine on the day I visited, it did still lift my spirits. The Cognitive Congestion exhibition features a collection of artists all offering something a little different. I loved the work by Patrick O'Sullivan, with its bright colours and beautiful shapes. And even the slightly scary Barely Human series, by Punk Recruit, had me fascinated.

After Torsaka I headed down to The Mill, a new community space on Coppermill Lane. With the wind blowing my hair wildly, and me cursing and spitting to nobody in particular about lack of cycle parking, I'm surprised they let me in to be honest. But they seemed to take my erratic behaviour as simply a mild mental disorder, and greeted me with a warm smile as I entered.

I love the idea of The Mill, a shared space that can be enjoyed by the whole community. And there were some great works of local art on display, and some interesting workshops being advertised. My only reservation was that it all still felt like a work in progress, and the banging and drilling did fray my already tattered nerves.
A photograph from WOOF! By Fabien Ho
When I find my self in this state there is only one thing to do - look at some pictures of puppies! As I knocked on the door of 126 Northcote Road the rather ferocious sounding dog on the other side did disturb me slightly. As much as I like dogs I'm not sure I wanted to be eaten by one. Especially on such a miserable day. But the lovely Fabien swiftly shut his pooch away and welcomed me in to his rather stunning house.

Even the most hardened cat lover should come to this exhibition, if not to enjoy the photography then the house itself. A rather traditional Victorian affair on the outside has been transformed in to a post modern delight. As something of a vintage girl I might usually complain about such transformations, but this had been done with such style it was hard not to admire.

And as well as having quite the eye for interior design, Fabien is an extremely prolific and talented photographer. A collection of 18 wonderful photos of dogs and their owners, taken on Walthamstow Marshes between February and August. I asked Fabien whether he had a favourite shot, and he said it changed every day. With so many incredible shots to choose from I could see why. Although having said that, the leaping sheepdog would probably just make it to first place for me.

As I left Woof! the skies opened and Walthamstow was turned in to the biggest walk-in shower. I limped, wet and bedraggled, over to Blackhorse Lane and took shelter at Inky Cuttlefish Studios. A veteran of the Art Trail, there is normally always something

interesting on at Inky. I've been many times before, but this time I was lucky enough to meet Jason Hawridge, who showed me his Retrospective collection and talked me through how it was created. I think this is one of the best things about the Art Trail – that you come face to face with the artists and learn their story and inspiration first hand. It's always nicer than reading some display board you find in normal galleries.

And so ends my tour of Blackhorse Road and surrounding area. I've been so pleased to see the little red numbers on the Art Trail map grow around this part of Walthamstow this year. It's nice to know that I no longer have to tramp over to The Village to enjoy a bit of art and culture, and just wonderful to know there are so many lovely and talented individuals right on my doorstep.

Ms Wanda's Wardrobe is based in a pop up shop at 151 Forest Road. The shop showcases and celebrates local ethical and sustainable fashion designers, as well as selling a range of vintage and pre-loved clothing and accessories. For more information visit


Nadiya P-T said...

Thank you for such informative and highly prized review Ms Wanda, we are delighted that locals like the fact of Art Gallery on their doorstep as much as providing space for artists to showcase their creations.
E17 Art Trail just highlighted how much interest in Arts is here in Awestow and how wonderful is to share the neighbourhood with another creative business and establishments.
Absolutely agree it’s such a bonus to discover and get to chat to the Artist behind the work, instantly adding extra dimension to the experience.
Adore my new jumper, it fits perfectly, thank you. Will pop in to check on the new stock

Jannah said...

I enjoyed the Torsaka gallery and think it a highly prized addition to walthamstow, can't believe I didn't know it was there before this art trail.
The Mill is close to my home and look forward to it developing, maybe they could have done with Flatpack Neighbourhood Parking by Alex Trench number 111 on art trail, outside Vestry House museum, and they don't take up much space.
I found with the Mill that with all going on that it's seemed a little chaotic whenever I popped in and difficult to see the artwork with classes and openings etc, someone nothing to do with the Mill, elsewhere on the trail told me there was a list of the artists and their works on a bit of paper, I found it knocking about a table top hidden under a pile of newspapers and magazines, and only one printed?! maybe an additional one on the wall in case the other vanishes and people uninformed about the bit of paper can see what is by who :)