May 30, 2014

Guest Blog: Art Trail Volunter Lynda Bailey Takes a Preview Tour

Wow, what a night!

I was in the first wave of Art Trail Volunteer ambassadors to leave Art Trail central at its office in The Mill at Coppermill Lane. We donned our Art Trail T- shirts and bags full of Trail guides and badges and, after a few photos taken rather precariously on the fire escape, we were off!

Lead by Laura and Chris, the original co founders of the Art trail, we intended to get round as many venues as possible in one evening to get a feel of what was happening on the Village, Hoe Street and Chapel End Trails. We were looking forward to chatting to the artists and dispensing trail guides and badges.  

With volunteers Emma (our official photographer), Carole, Joe and Chris we descended on the beautiful Walthamstow Village, which is jam packed with shops, private homes and workshops showing a wide range of art.

Carole and Emma outside Estates 17
First stop - A Walthamstow Institution! -  Penny Fielding Gallery -  showing Hassan Vawda's paintings - A writer turned painter who now tells stories of Walthamstow life with paint rather than words in his own inimitable style. Even though it was early, there was a real buzz - unfortunately no time to stop for the delicious cakes provided by Aura Rose patisserie. Time to move on to our next stop at Estates 17 - although not officially listed as a preview venue, Neil who owns Estates 17 and sponsors the E-list (Walthamstow's listings magazine), was providing very generous and stylish hospitality. We drank Bollinger whilst chatting to photographer Paul Tucker. He was showing his stunning images of Epping Forest which capture the beautiful change of light throughout the year. From here we visited the Village Deli where two of our Volunteers Joe and Chris, both fine artists themselves, ended up helping to hang some of the art of the Hayley Holliday exhibition which was enigmatically called "Strangers on a Train".

It was a bit of a trek to the next venue but great fun - We stopped to chat to people on the way to give out trail guides and persuade people to go to the previews.

Our next preview was the Makers Yard secret oasis of creativity and calm hidden behind a gate just off Shernall street. Apparently these sheds, situated round a pretty garden courtyard, were once a cattery but now house an eclectic group of artists. One of whom, Yvonne Overton, had taken some amazing pictures of a rat skeleton she had found in the garden - sounds a bit gross but in fact they were rather beautiful. I had an interesting chat to Marita and Tim who were doing the rounds of the previews to promote their own exhibition  at Wadham Bowling Club in Chapel End with food by Damngood curry club. It sounds fab, please go! 

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Marita and Tim
Again we had to tear ourselves away - Off  to Amanda Doidge's garden shed in Church Hill to see her fine art ceramics, some of which are based on the Rorschach psychotherapy test - Amanda talked eloquently about her fascinating pieces in a lovely family atmosphere. 

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Just time to fit in two final venues!

Second to last stop "Show Something" in Howard Road included a very cool collective of illustrators who have whitewashed thier whole house, turning it into a gallery for the duration of the Art Trail. There was a real party atmosphere here so we stayed for a few drinks and some rainbow cake mean while manically pinning E17 badges to all and sundry. We were accosted by a large padded owl like creature as we were leaving who insisted on having a picture taken - I immediately agreed as it didn't seem wise to argue with a drunken owl!

We were seriously flagging by now but decided to do one last exhibition at Bygga bo on Chingford Road, next to the Bell. Wow, what an amazing space - Swedish food in very stylish surroundings with a beautiful garden and exhibition space attached.The photography exhibition showing was called Mixed Race 17 - a reflection on being mixed race in the modern world - very though provoking images and interesting back stories.

After a few Swedish tapas and some schnapps, we finally admitted defeat. Tired but inspired by an amazing evening we headed for home!

We managed seven previews in one night!

I am really looking forward to the next few weeks, there is an artists reception tonight for which I am making the bunting, so I better get a move on!

Lynda Bailey is an ex fashion designer now working in a media agency. Originally from Newcastle, she has been living in London for many years and Walthamstow for ten, She loves art and is volunteering to really immerse herself in the art trail experience!

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