Aug 20, 2012

Big Local - Pillars of the Community

1. Please tell us about the work you will be showing in the 2012 E17 Art Trail?
The William Morris Big Local will be showing hundreds of clay figures which have been made in the the William Morris ward, which stretches along Forest Road, from Blackhorse lane to Hoe Street. This summer the community has been talking about our dreams for the future of the area and we have invited people to make a model of something they love or something which shows their dreams for the community. The idea is that we will show all the models together on 1st of September before asking local people to place the figures in unexpected places in the ward. We will then give people a map so they can walk the ward and discover the little figures - like a game of hide and seek.

2. Is this your first time in the Trail or are you an E17 Art Trail veteran?
This is the first time we have exhibited as part of the trail. We are a new community movement and we want to use the exhibition to show people where the William Morris ward is and how local people want their community to be. It's been really great getting to know others doing the Arts Trail and particularly Laura and Chris who live in the William Morris Ward. The ward is full of artists, poets, photographers, designers and haberdashers.

3. What are the challenges of getting everything ready for your Art Trail event?
Doing the clay models has been an interesting challenge. I enlisted the help of my mum and aunt who both have experience to get me used to working with the air-drying clay and was surprised what a difference some practice made. What I found is that giving people something to do with their hands actually started some interesting conversations about what people thought of the community. It worked best when people had the time and space to really concentrate on what they were making. My children also love making things with the clay and it has become a part of daily life.

4. Do you remember the first artist that really influenced you? Does that artist’s influence still have an impact on your work?
Our inspiration has to be William Morris. I hadn't realised until the gallery reopened recently what gifts William Morris had bestowed on our ward. He gave all his work to the people of Walthamstow. He is insightful in his advice to have nothing which is not "useful and beautiful". His maxim sums up how people want to change our community. The amazing new gallery really puts the ward on the map and shows that creativity runs through the lifeblood of the area, encouraging everyone to get involved.

5. The E17 Art trail has become bigger every year. Do you think it is because more artists are calling it home?
I think the Arts Trail is getting bigger each year because something wonderful has been created that people want to be part of. What is really successful is that the trail invites everyone to take part and does not make a distinction between artists and non-artists - everyone is active. It allows people to use Walthamstow as a unique canvas on which to explore their ideas.

6.  What has E17 bestowed on you?    
Although I washed up on these shores almost by accident, after meeting someone and falling in love, E17 has bestowed on me a true home and a great community of people in which to live.

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