May 22, 2014

Walthamstow Wild: Alison Brown and the other Forest Painters take on Woods and Water

Can you tell us about the work you will be showing during this year's E17 Art Trail?
I am showing paintings of Walthamstow’s magical wildlife found in Thames Water’s Walthamstow Reservoirs, Lea Valley’s Walthamstow Marshes to the west, Hollow Ponds to the East, Lea Valley’s wildlife centre with its huge bird hide and wild orchids to the south and Queen Elizabeth’s Hunting Lodge and Connaught water not far away to the north. All these areas are full of insects like butterflies, dragonflies and bees. There are birds including swans and ducks as well as a goose that tries to steal paints from my bag by the Coppermill. Herons nest there too, at least when the biggest colony of inland cormorants in the UK have not destroyed their trees. The reservoirs are a secret treasure that Thames Water protect with only one entry point and a secretive old fashioned system for collecting entry charges. 

I  love exhibiting in Pictorem. You never know who else will be  exhibiting with you  A few months after the 2012 Art Trail, Kelvin Okafur, whose pictures were next to mine, won the Cork Street prize and started selling his paintings at £10,000 each. I am looking forward to seeing the paintings of all the others exhibiting there this time and hope some others may be equally gifted. 

I sell my paintings in aid of Thuso in Waltham Forest. Last year my pictures helped orphans to attend a school near Johannesburg and have lunch there and I will be thrilled if I sell more pictures this year to provide education for more children, who would otherwise have to do without.

How have you been preparing for this year's trail? 
The  Forest Painters paint weekly outside around Walthamstow during dry summer days  and  develop their art together in other mediums when it is cold or wet. We started in Vestry House Garden, moved on to paint the Ancient House and St Mary’s and then to the lovely wild areas all around Walthamstow,  as well as the market,William Morris Gallery and then to Queens Rd Cemetery and St Barnabas Church. For this year’s Trail I am showing Walthamstow’s wild magic in Pictorem (150) and have given a picture of the William Morris Gallery’s lovely architecture to the raffle for the Great East End Art Market by Eat or Heat (111).

Could you tell us about an an artist that  particularly inspires you? 
I was brought up on fairy stories illustrated by Arthur Rackham, which include ambiguous trees that are also people. I love the way Botticelli  used mythology. Some of Hockney's pictures of woods and trees in Yorkshire have a lot of similarities to the woods in Walthamstow. I like the way Archimboldo paints pictures that are about two completely different things at the same time and I try to do the same.

How does inhabiting a community like Walthamstow help your practice?
I take a lot of inspiration from the other artists I paint with and whose works I see. We have the most supportive picture framers anyone could have. There is always so much artistic going on in Walthamstow and local  professional artists are very helpful and supportive of amateurs like meSteven Saxby is showing 120 photos of Walthamstow residents, each of a different  nationality at St Barnabas Church this Art Trail (see earlier blog post) and their art, their culture, their food, their language and their histories support us all. Because almost all of us are outsiders, nobody is an outsider here. We are all busy sharing our varied political and social views with each other. Our MP and one of our MEPs live locally, are very active in our communities and happy to engage in discussions about what matters to us. This must affect our art

What are you most looking forward to during the E17 Art Trail this year ? 
There is too much to choose from to say.

Listing no.150 in the guide: Click here for more information

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

For the website of Thuso, the charity the paintings of Walthamstow Wild in Woods and Water supports, see