I've lived in Walthamstow for just over a year and this is the first Art Trail I've immersed myself in. The landscape of Walthamstow really lends itself to such an event, hidden gems buried in unusual locations, a topography that is inspiring and yet down to earth. Hailing from a comparable neighbourhood in West Scotland, Walthamstow contains the nuts and bolts of three novels I've penned about the area. As a writer, it has been a source of both wonder and challenge. It's not often you have bars that double as theatre venues, charity fundraising HQs and that host music festivals. Or social clubs that host international film festivals, vintage craft and clothing fairs as well as serve booze. That among other elements is what makes Walthamstow and The Art Trail so unique.
I am aware I have rhapsodised about the Art Trail and Walthamstow and would like to temper that with a serious and sober note, that of arts funding apocalypse over the course of the last decade. Art Trail represents a community resilience and even somewhat of a resistence to these cuts. Being community-led means that overtly political works can sit comfortably with Lego installations, widespread primary and secondary school participation and all ages being represented into the bargain. It is revolutionary in that sense, not in a manning the barricades instinct, but rather of the constructive, non-sexist, non-ageist multicultural celebration of the art produced as well as Walthamstow. Extolling these virtues is but one side of the coin and as I have mentioned elsewhere in the blog, it is the inclusivity and diversity which propels a varied and engaging programme. I will later feature interviews with key members of the volunteering group who play a pivotal and intrinsic role throughout not just the Art Trail, but the whole year building up to it.
As a relative newcomer to the area, it is easy for me to be a slightly gawping art tourist, whilst catching the playful as well as the profound. Where else can an exhibition highlighting the brutality of FGM sit side by side with a life-size interactive Rupunzel exhibit? As I pass into the second weekend I am looking forward to uncovering more delights. There will be more guest blogging from some guests, some of whom may be familiar to you, some not. Please feel free to contribute to this blog at any time, all contributions will be welcome, especially if you are a participant with a few moments to spare.