As Art Trail Wanstead clocks up a decade, founder Donna Mizzi looks forward to 2019’s time-themed event and explains why more residents are getting involved in creating art than they did 10 years ago
Over the space of just 10 years, we have noticed that art is considered less the preserve of a few talented individuals to being more an activity that people of all ages and abilities can engage in. And the trail has shown that individuals do not always have to spend years at art school to create work that is admired or appreciated by members of the public. That said, many of our members have at some time joined local classes, courses or groups.
It may be a change in society as more people find art accessible, relaxing, therapeutic and a break from uncreative jobs. And, of course, it may be the art trail that has helped drive that change and broken down some barriers. The volunteers involved certainly hope so. Organiser and Wanstead House tutor Anna Bisset says the trail can act as “a stepping-stone into a community of people who are making and enjoying art, or even as a bridge from art student to professional artist – a really transformative experience!”
Another valuable seam of artistic ability has been mined by Eugene Coyle via his trail art postcard project. Encouraging anyone to send in their own art card on this year’s theme ‘Time’ has revealed many more impressive artists living locally. At the trail, come and see the postcard art. Or even better, come to Eugene’s stall at the Wanstead Festival and produce some of your own.
Our local trail has forged new friendships, built a stronger community spirit and added beauty and colour to the area – several businesses are now keeping the trail’s artwork on show all year. Thank you to restaurant Filika, The Manor House, La Bakerie and The Stow Brothers, plus TfL for allowing artwork at Wanstead Tube station… and to any more that will join them in the future. The trail has added verve to the Wanstead Festival and helped inspire the setting up of the Wanstead Fringe seven years ago. It also reaches out to help encourage crafts people and designer-makers.
All this would not have been possible without a small band of volunteers from the organising Art Group Wanstead, some of whom have been involved from the start. Take a bow art tutors Patrick Purcell, Ron Filer and Anna Bisset. Special thanks to Tomasz Wlodarczyk and Angela Daley, who each ran a trail for Wanstead. And to Jeanette Cole, Sally Asbury and Alison Stenhouse, among others, whose help has been invaluable. Many other wonderful volunteers – too numerous to mention here – have pitched in to help over the years.
And it couldn’t have happened without our sponsor The Stow Brothers, the Wanstead Village Directory and our local newspapers, the shops, cafes, pubs, businesses and community centres. Many grateful thanks. There’s no doubt about it, Wanstead has community building down to a fine art.