Jun 13, 2014

Guest Blog: Simon La Roche - The Golden Pineapple of Walthamstow

To the best of my knowledge, Walthamstow does not have a historical connection to the pineapple. I don't think pineapples were grown here during Victorian times when it was all the rage to do so. There is a William Morris pineapple print, and one of his fruitcake recipes involves pineapple (it turns out William Morris was something of a baker when not doing interior design stuff). But when you think of E17, pineapples do not automatically spring to mind.
The aim of the Golden Pineapple of Walthamstow is to create a link between E17 and pineapples, which to my delight is starting to happen.
I was inspired to do something around pineapples after seeing lots of pineapple palm trees while on honeymoon in Portugal in 2012. While we were there, I visited an incredible palace and park called Quinta da Regaleira in the world heritage site of Sintra. The palace is also known as 'The Palace of Monteiro the Millionaire', the nickname of its former owner, who had made a fortune exporting coffee from Brazil. It got me thinking about how great it would be if Walthamstow had its own philanthropist to finance the construction of beautiful palaces and gardens.
I imagined how this person, who would have to be called John or Joan Ananás, had made vast sums from the trade of pineapples. He or she could see the stock of pineapples continuing to rise, and to build upon this success decided to invest in pineapple arts and crafts, including the production of pineapple wallpaper, table cloths, bunting and jewellery etc. Walthamstow, with its large number of artists and creative types, would be the perfect place for this industry to flourish.

So I couldn't believe it when, earlier this year, I saw a golden pineapple painted on the side of 56 St James Street. It seems the cafe owners are similarly obsessed with pineapples. I then found out Walthamstow has its very own Pineapple Queen, who has been collecting pineapple based items for the last 30 years. Her Pineapple Cube Gallery has been a highlight of this year's art trail (20 Elmsdale Road, open Sat 4-7 p.m., venue 57).
Others in E17 have also embraced the pineapple during the art trail. Mo Gallaccio has put her beautiful pineapple print on display in The Mill; Katja Rosenberg let me hang pineapples from trees in the Town Square as part of her Art Grows On Trees event; and Alessandra Rigillo has dedicated a corner of her shop Abstract to the pineapple and the famous pineapple crotchet stitch.
On Saturday 14 June, 2-6pm, the fabulous Norman Loves will be throwing a pineapple party to celebrate the king of fruits. It's taking place at venue 82 in the Art Trail guide, and is open to everyone who fancies getting on the E17 pineapple express.

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