Having a visitor over the weekend and receiving his objective overview of Art Trail 2015, as well as Walthamstow itself has been an interesting experience. Gareth is an urban geographer/journalist, who is based in my own home city and we've been friends, as well as collaborators for many years. What struck Gareth was the community resilience in the face of looming austerity as well as what he descibed as the "back garden festival culture". We had been to Deryl Walsh and Rob Thatcher's Mansel Grove mini festival on Sunday and Gareth was amazed at the supportive and surprising events taking place from an ad hoc puppet show, to musical performance, to prose/poetry recital.
Gareth slept in our garden studio, which is the venue for our Improper Art exhibit and he admitted that this would be the first time he'd been a living part of an art event. We managed to cram as much into his weekend in terms of Art Trail activities as well as general social carousing and even got to catch the brilliant Glenbuck Cherrypickers, who appeared at the Artists' Opening at Vestry House. I was really happy to catch up with them and have a beer with Pate Baikie who plays guitar and sings with them. Pete was formerly part of the cult Channel 4 comedy show 'Absolutely', of which I was a big fan. They say never meet your heroes, but in Pete's case, I've not been disappointed and I say this as a commited iconoclast! The band are utterly superb, with Walthamstow's very own musical stalwarts Alison Jones on fiddle and Dick Smith on banjo. Don Bowen on a very beautiful double bass completes the outfit. They wowed The Bell on Sunday night and although this is a tenuous connection to the Trail, it is nevertheless emblematic of the friendly connections that are so easily forged and the feeling of a warm and growing community of not just artists but people too.
I have asked Gareth to guest blog and in the meantime I thought I'd share some thoughts on this second weekend of the Art Trail.