Jun 2, 2015

Some Early Reflections on Art Trail 2015

Even at this early stage in Art Trail 2015, I am enthralled by the innate qualities of the event and its essential importance to the cultural life of Walthamstow. The democratic and inclusive elements, the sheer spread of mediums used to create the artworks, poetry, film and sculpture, to name but four disciplines is truly eclectic and engaging. This year, with circa 4000 participants, it's fair to say that a fair percentage of the Walthamstow population is either taking part or observing. As a relative newcomer to the region, I am delighted to be a part of it as both an observer and performer. Having attended more than a few arts festivals including The Edinburgh Fringe and Aye Write in Glasgow, I have to say that the Art Trail is unique. From the low price of admission to the trail as a participant, to the efficient running of such a potentially unwieldy amount of venues and listings, the trail has been a fixture which has embedded itself into the cultural firmament of Walthamstow.

From my first exposure to the trail this year as both a performer of spoken word to collaborating with both my partner Jennie and local artist Anna Courcha, the whole experience thus far has been inspiring and life affirming. Full credit has to be given to Laura Kerry from Artillery who birthed the trail eleven years ago with Cris Thompson and her extremely hard working and diligent group of volunteers. It is a symbol of both community resilience in the face of severe austerity-driven arts cuts and growing youth unemployment and resistence to the often overly-commercialised world of contemporary art. It is this community engagement that separates this celebration of the arts from other similar festivals. Obviously, I have a biased view, but one that has grown out of both observing and taking part in the trail. Long may the trail reign.

This year's theme is particularly important, as storytelling is at the heart of our national cultures and indeed cultures worldwide. With over 42 different nationalities resident in Walthamstow, it remains one of the most diverse regions in Britain. These myriad voices can be heard throughout this year's Art Trail from local poets to rap artists to lego builders, crafters and visual artists. It truly is the trail of tale.

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