|Mind the Gap, Alke Schmidt|
Last night I went on a wonderful preview tour of the Trail, taking in art in gardens, on the street and at the Quaker meeting house. First stop was Mitre Studios, where painting, printmaking, sculpture and installation is on display. Using alluring colours and decorative patterns, Alke Schmidt’s often provocative work comments on contemporary themes from local politics to globalisation, war and oil spills. She made “Mind the Gap” in 2009 when the economy was in freefall, capturing the feeling of impending doom being reported in the media. Two years later the economy is still fragile and “Mind the Gap” is still relevant to contemporary society. Alke is selling prints of “Mind the Gap” and donating 25 per cent of profits to Fairbridge, a charity that works with young people that other organisations find difficult to engage – giving them the motivation, self-confidence and skills they need to change their lives.
|Sitting Around, Esther Nelsen|
Some of Esther Nelsen's work can also be seen as a comment on the lives of young people. Seeing her sketches and casts got me really excited about seeing “Sitting Around”, a life size sculpture of two boys sitting on a wall outside her house on the Crescent (which I spotted later but it was getting dark so apologies for quality of the picture). It's also worth a trip to Mitre Studios to see the movement and form in her charcoal life drawings.
Another artist at Mitre Studios is Martin Adams, who works according to themes and has an eclectic mix of work is on display here. His colourful, Bauhaus-inspired mobiles, one of which is called “Grappling with Gropius” are playful and lovely. It’s nice to see art displayed differently, in this case hanging from the ceiling and slowly moving around. Zebra crossings are another theme, with the "Road Crossings" pieces. Monochrome Prints and woodblocks with a zebra pattern and even a small sculpture of a zebra.
I got a tantalising glimpse of Della Rees’s piece using different coloured bottletops, given a new life as a sculpture on the brick wall but the studios were so busy that I’ll have to make another trip to see them and Kirsten Schmidt’s work properly.
Downstairs, in the high-ceilinged Quaker Meeting House is Alyssa Moxley’s “In-Between Two Sounds: a project investigating silence”. The empty room is the perfect place to contemplate awareness of sound, space and movement, away from the bustling streets of Walthamstow. Sit on a wooden bench, put on headphones and listen to a field recording of the surrounding area that responds to the intentional listening fundamental to Quaker practice. Books about work by composer and theorist John Cage, and studies of the culture of noise and silence are on hand for those who want to learn more.
|In-Between Two Sounds|
Another place that feels far from the city is the Makers Yard studios. Danielle Michalitsianos, Yvonne Overton and Russell Lowry have transformed a derelict yard and outbuildings that used to be a cattery and kennels into working studios with outside installation space/gardens where fruit and vegetables grow. In Russell Lowry’s studio there is a table covered in neat rows of bottle corks that he plans to make into sculptures. Danielle’s shiny prints are displayed in the garden. There is something sad about the pretty faces they depict. Yvonne Overton's beautiful stained glass catches the light as it hangs in the window.
|In the garden at Makers Yard|
Last stop was the garden of Hayward House, to see Owen Bullett’s sculpture alongside Adrian Anderson’s photography. Owen Bullett’s sculpture has been described as “man sculpture”, it is robust and uses wood and metal. However, there is a lightness of touch too, especially in a curling wooden piece in the corner of the garden. The photography and sculpture complemented each other perfectly. Looking back and forth between photographs and sculptures I started to see similar shapes emerge in the photos and sculptures, the curve of a wooden ball replicated in the circular shore of a lake. I had a chat with a resident of Hayward House and he was thrilled to have this work in his garden.