One of our aims has been to make art more accessible. It’s a form of communication. If we’ve helped more local people enjoy art, that’s an important achievement, says Donna Mizzi, Art Trail Wanstead founder.
“For some reason, there’s art everywhere on the High Street!” “Gosh, there must be a helluva lot of artists living in Wanstead.” “What’s that cow doing in Majestic Wine Warehouse?”
These were just a few of the comments overheard during September’s Art Trail Wanstead. This trail has been the biggest and best in its 10 years, according to many visitors and artists. Almost 80 venues participated in the free 16-day event organised by Art Group Wanstead volunteers. Some small shops showed a few samples while larger businesses accommodated work by several artists. Florist Lillies of Wanstead even gave over its whole front window to flower art by delighted Leila Skye, while trail supporter The Stow Brothers used its window and walls to showcase the event. About 150 amateur and professional artists took part, and at least the same number of school children. In addition, 142 art postcards went on display, most created by local residents.
Children from Wanstead Church School and Aldersbrook Primary made hundreds of clocks for the event’s Time theme, many of which were displayed outside the Corner House. Other works ranged from paintings to photography, from pottery and jewellery to mosaic work, and varied in scale from tiny masterpieces in a miniature gallery to Karen Humpage’s huge papier-mâché cow.
Then there was the Wanstead Festival with stalls from designer makers and artists, and a wide range of free workshops. Snaresbrook Primary School produced seasonal trees to embellish and later show at the school as part of Victoria Senett and Emma English’s recycling workshop. Marsh Quilters demonstrated their colourful and intricate craft and ran popular workshops. Alison Stenhouse and Sally Asbury helped children make marine-scene artworks to draw attention to the Sea-Changers charity, while Eugene Coyle encouraged postcard designing and paper-plate clock making by children. He also sold contributed postcards for charity.
But the giant trail workshop, which invariably attracts the biggest participation, was the Lego “Build” attraction organised by Adult Fans of Lego. “We had more than 200 separate models made by our artist children (and a few parents!) on display all day,” said exhausted – but happy – co-ordinator Lee McGinty.
Meanwhile, other work provoked discussions. A photographic work by psychotherapist and artist Victoria Baskerville at The Duke showed phones obscuring the callers’ faces. Victoria explained: “We could argue that mobile phones have bought more connectedness through social media, but at the same time moved us away from ‘being in the moment’, connecting and being truly in relationship with each other.”