May 31, 2015

Phew, phew....Day Two! The 31st Of May

Taking my starting point as The Artworks book launch of Michael Shann the poet's collaboration with print maker Kirsten Schmidt, I endeavoured to get around as much as I could on this clammy and damp Sunday.

Michael's latest book, entitled 'Walthamstow' is a succinct and pithy series of meditations of the varied delights of Walthamstow and surrounding areas. He opened with 'Kingfisher', reminding the audience in his introduction that his poetry can be seen if you get down on. your hands and knees (always the best way to see poetry...) at Walthamstow Central Station. It's embedded in the concrete there, as is the heart of his beautiful and succinct poetry. He can be seen below, with Kirsten Schmidt, whose apposite and equally beautiful prints accompany Michael's text. I must confess to a post 11am Pimms that was proffered by Kirsten...well, my five a day was also in the glass in fruit form! Michael read with a wry humour and gentle presence and his poetry is both a credit to him and his adopted home of Walthamstow. As a recent incomer myself, I appreciated the visual aspect of his work and of Kirsten's characterful prints.

Tim Fishlock

Tim Fishlock

Matt McKenzie and Kim Vousden

Kirsten Schmidt

Della Rees

Della Rees

Martin Adams

Esther Neslen

Esther Neslen

Alke Schmidt

Martin Adams and Mo Callaccio

Alke Schmidt's art work

Alke Schmidt

The Rectory Roxy

The Rectory Roxy

A poet from Poet's Corner

Art @ Ye Olde Rose and Crown

After attending Michael and Kirsten' book launch, I spoke to Tim Fishlock, whose arresting and engaging artwork I enjoyed as much as I did conversing with him about his process. I particularly liked the fact that his "Oddly Head' (a clever pun on old publishing house The Bodley Head) work explicitly mentioned 'being IV drip fed pop art to a soundtrack of John Cooper Clarke' "Absolutely Chickentown' As humble a man as his works are electric and hyper-kinetic, he is a artist worth seeing and indeed meeting. I left feeling uplifted on this overcast Sunday.

Hidden treasures are an intrinsic feature of the Art Trail and at Greenleaf Road, via an alleyway I found the delights of Paekakariki Press and Mitre Studios. Paekakariki Press is the brainchild of renaissance man Matt McKenzie, a native of New Zealand now resident in our fair borough. I had the signal pleasure of a guided tour of his impressive premises by the man himself and his 'printing devil' Kim Vousden. Kim is primarily a printmaker and working artist with an interest in print and is learning to cast type using Matt's amazing array of vintage built-to-last equipment. It was heartening to see such traditional artisanism in a world currently obsessed with ephemeral trends and indeed hardware. A steampunk reference was the typecasting machine Matt uses which is hooked up to a PC. Both Matt and Kim were extremely generous with their time and I appreciated their indulgence of a gawping tourist like myself. Matt also gifted me a lovely handprinted card with my name on it. He gave me the translation of Paekakariki which means 'the poaching place of the little green parrot. I left with a new-found interest in the world of print and 'real' type as it were, thanks to both Kim and Matt's concise explanations of the art.

Mitre Studios was a further revelation, housing five artists with very different and interesting practises. I was greeting by the cheerful and welcoming presence of Martin Adams, who gave me a tour and offered me brownies and strawberries. I am struck at the sheer goodwill and aforementioned generosity of the Art Trails venues I've visited thus far. Martin's own work on display includes a humorous and unofficial history of The Bauhaus movement and is as engaging as the man himself. Della Rees' sculptures featured the domestic and community and I found them to be imbued with a heartfelt and intensely human quality at the heart of them, especially the one of the infant in the pushchair. I spoke to Alke Schmidt about her beautiful and apocalyptic paintings which are concerned with looming and all-too-real environmental catastrophes as well as the history and exploitation of textile workers. This struck a chord with me coming from a city built and predicated on textiles. Alke was enthusiastic and erudite and it was a pleasure to converse with both Martin and her about their work as well as the Art Trail. Forest poet Mo Gallacio dropped at the same time, hopefully suggesting by her sage presence that great minds think alike.

I made it to the Rectory Roxy for a brief pit stop and was impressed with what they have achieved there in such a compact space as well as the sheer quality of the short films being shown. 'Lega'say' featured a host of local voices responding to the changing face of the region, especially in light of the 2012 Olympics. Another gem, well worth seeing if you get the chance.

I ended the day at Ye Olde Rose And Crown where I caught some of the art on offer, including Forest Poet Roger Huddle artwork in The Red Room. To my tired eyes, the quality and range of talent on offer was eclectic and of a high artistic standard.

I also caught some poet's corner poetry on the way home, via Aubrey Road by poet Eleanor which topped off an day where to say I was sated by all the art and culture on offer would be somewhat of an understatement.

May 30, 2015

Saturday 30th May

Day One of the Art Trail 2015- a guest blog post by Jennie Caminada

On the first day of the 2015 I was so excited that I left the house at ten to get in as much art trailing before we ourselves opened our doors at 3pm.

I took my middle son Dylan, 15, a copy of the guide and some delicious food from the ever fabulous Yilderim Bakery and off we trotted.

First stop was The Mill on Coppermill Lane, long a favourite place of mine for playing, learning, teaching, knitting and just hanging out. The art at The Mill is consistently good and this year was no different.

The first thing I saw was this amazing installation by Face Invader, a local maker of masks and headdresses. It looked very William Morris inspired to me, whether that was intentional or not I don't know.

The Mill
There was art on all the walls in the living room, from etchings to photographs, prints to collages. It was all very inspiring!
The Mill
Next we walked over to visit a friend who told me about this lovely guy Spike who has an allotment on the same site as him and his partner, and they swap apples for cider (sounds like a fantastic swap to me!). He was wondering if the next exhibit I was planning to visit (called Stowhemia) was Spike's and indeed it was. And he truly is a lovely friendly chap, we chatted about sewing machines and letterpress and studios and Walthamstow before I went into the amazing studio at the bottom of his garden to see work by various artists. Chatting to the people that make the art is exactly what makes the Art Trail such an amazing event, it's so personal and immediate, and warming.

With time running out Dylan and I decided to visit just one more venue and we chose (wisely it turned out!) to go and see Rolando Gomez Aguilar's Culture, rebellion and graffiti, a photographic exhibition about graffiti in his hometown of San Christobal de las Casas in Mexico. Another friendly artist, exhibiting in his front room, with amazing photos and a personal explanation of the background of the highly political and also beautiful street art left us sated and uplifted and ready for a quick bit or art trailing on the block and then some lunch and our own opening.
Culture, rebellion and graffiti - Rolando Gomez Aguilar

Culture, rebellion and graffiti - Rolando Gomez Aguilar
We have always had a rather artistic little block here on Thorpe Crescent and even though we lost the amazing Sarah Hardy to Essex last year we still managed a respectable three venues next to each other with a total of 6 people exhibiting as well as some astonishing food being created at no 17 by Brian. Below are photos of Ellie Noble's work, always inspirational and beautiful, and John's wood work, again stunning stuff, helped along by the Thai yellow fish curry made by Brian.
Paper, wood and food

Paper, wood and food

Paper, wood and food

Paper, wood and food

Brian cooking up a storm - Paper, wood and food
Crazy pirate children
Last but not least was Andrew's lovely vintage circus inspired signs at 21 Thorpe Crescent under the name Crazy Pirate Children. Andrew also has some gorgeous vintage style pin up paintings left from last year and is open to commissions for signs - I've asked him to make me a Cheekyhandmades sign for my studio - can't wait!

All three of us are open for the next two Saturdays too, Ellie opens at 12, Andrew at 1 and we open at 3.

Art Trail Artists Reception

An uplifting and entertaining evening was started with a wheen of readings from the redoubtable Forest Poets. Laura Kerry gave an emotive and heartfelt speech as main organiser of the Art Trail. Music was supplied by the wonderful Glenbuck Cherrypickers. Laura was as modest as ever, despite her crucial role in the Art Trail. The Forest Poets featured a very eclectic selection of poets including; Paul McGrane, Deryl Walsh, Hassan Vanda, Dominique Golding, Roger Huddle and Niall Firth among others.

It was a great opportunity to meet fellow Trailers and I was especially delighted to meet Pete Baikie from the aforementioned Glenbuck Cherrypickers, as he is a comedy favourite of mine, as well as being the very fine voice of the group. And what a group they are! Featuring the amazing Dick Smith, who shredded his banjo like a latter day axe hero and beautiful four part harmonies from the whole ensemble.

As the sun retreated, I began to realise, I'd have to be on my game as the Artists' reception provided a dizzying preview of what the trail has to offer this year, as well as a reminder as to how hard Laura and her team of volunteers work.

Deryl Walsh reading her poetry

The Glenbuck Cherrypickers perform

Local MP Stella Creasy

Preview Night Photographs

 Preview night was a dizzying experience as Jennie, Anna and I had to pool our resources, tidy the garden, buy some nibbles and wine and hang the exhibits. I too had just completed my latest Walthamstow-based novel and was also aware of how many events on the preview night I would miss as I was reading as well as setting up the venue. We had an intimate evening and an appreciative and friendly audience.

Our theme was 'Improper Art' from Jennie's cross stiitching piece 'We'll Always Have Swindon' to her medallion quilt which featured her craft and my words. Anna Courcha, our fellow collaborator's work featured seemingly everyday objects and items which had their own internal story, from her discarded tights to her mystery packages rendered almost like airport baggage scans. I (Sean) read from my Walthamstow-based novel 'I Never Did Like The Sound Of The Bagpipes'.

The other snaps on this post come courtesy of Carolyn Abbot, so very many thanks to her for attending on my behalf.

Cheekyhandmades - improper art
Anna Courcha - improper art
Sean Urquhart reading from his novel
Lotolie - Penny Dampier
Anna Courcha's tights - improper art
Improper art
56 St James Street - Katie Jones
Gnome House - Inky Cuttlefish

May 22, 2015

Donna Hayter: Questionnaire

Donna Hayter is a local arts practitioner with an interesting questionnaire for art trail participants to complete. Here is Donna's outline:

I am here; where are you?" asks what it is to live in Walthamstow, what it is to be here in 2015.
I am used to creating interventions in public spaces, but in this exhibition I create an intervention in my private space and invite neighbours and 'art-trailers' to contribute thoughts and maybe objects to display in my garden. If you could spare a few moments to take part that would be great - I hope to hear from you soon! 

A link to her questionnaire is here:

Our first artists' questionnaire recipient: Wavyline

What is the story of your art eg your preparation, process and how you realise it? 

WAVYLINE: Music Techniques for Arts Pracitioners (Composers, Writers and Artists). No 77 in The Art Trail. Taster workshops book at: June 3rd, June 10th, Quaker Meeting House, 7.30-9.30, £4.95

The idea for my workshops came about from a workshop I have been running with a group of friends: an artist and 
two writers in addition to me -a composer. I wanted to show how music techniques and theory can be very helpful in a nuts and bolts kind of way, to composers, writers and artists. These workshops can also be used for CPD.

For example, in music, we composers have all sorts of ways of using motifs,  (which are short rhythmic and melodic fragments), you can vary them, elongate them, truncate them, reverse them, invert them the list goes on. This can be helpful to think about as an artist or as a writer as well. As an artist for example, you could have a shape with a colour scheme, which could recur and be varied in a similar way, across a whole canvas, adding visual coherence. As a writer, a motif could be a recurring sentence that occurs throughout a piece of of work, it could be varied and developed in a similar way to a piece of music. This motivic development, can be a structural aid to a piece of work as well as supporting the textural consistency of the work.

How do you think the art trail has contributed to community resilience (especially in light of major arts council cuts etc.)?

I think it's a fantastic project which really does support community cohesion. I particularly like the democratic way that anybody who wants to be included, can be included, in that there's no artistic hierarchy telling people that their work does not fit. The £50 inclusion fee is very reasonable, the approach of encouraging participants to open up their houses is also a stroke of genius as it obviously cuts down on everybody's costs as well as encouraging people to get to know each other.

What does the future hold for you and your art?
Music Techniques for Arts Practitioners (Composers, Artists & Writers)
Two one day workshops at Gnome house: 7 Blackhorse Lane, Walthamstow, E17 6DS
Dates: July 4th & 11th
Place: Gnome House
Time: 11.00-4.00
Cost: £49

May 19, 2015

Hello and welcome to E17 Art Trail 2015

Hello and welcome to this year's art trail, the theme for 2015 is storytelling; the trail of the tale.

I'm the blog editor, Sean Urquhart, a local resident and writer.

Please send me your entries and pictures for inclusion in the blog. Our email address is: Thank you in advance. Enjoy the heady and myriad delights.